Revealed – 'Unsightly' state of Ipswich's old and crumbling roads
PUBLISHED: 05:30 25 October 2018
Ageing concrete roads which have fallen into disrepair should be given improvements to bring them up to scratch, councillors have said.
Ipswich Borough Council’s scrutiny committee formed a task force in the summer to explore how roads in Ipswich were prioritised for maintenance work by Suffolk Highways.
Its final proposal calls on Suffolk Highways to put in place a long-term programme of improvement works on Ipswich’s concrete roads, many of which are around 50 years old and are understood to be more costly to repair than asphalt roads.
Repairs to existing joints for concrete roads are estimated to cost £1million, overlay repairs at £5m and complete repair of joints, overlay and asphalt resurfacing at £10m.
Task group chairman Colin Smart said: “One day they will all need to be looked at. They are roads built 50 years or more ago and they are beyond their life expectancy.”
From the findings, Mr Smart said it had emerged that many of Ipswich’s roads were classified with a low priority and had not been reviewed for 15 years, meaning they were often not repaired quickly enough given traffic had increased.
Following a series of meetings, including input from bus, taxi and cycling organisations, the task group’s findings will be presented at the borough council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday, alongside a series of changes Labour councillors believe Suffolk Highways should adopt.
Labour councillor Sandra Gage said: “This is about looking after our roads in the way they should be looked after.
“It’s not about spending lots of money, it’s about spending it wisely.”
Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways at the county council said: “Suffolk Highways assigns a maintenance hierarchy to each road and pavement based on the ‘well-managed highway infrastructure’ Code of Practice published in October 2016.
“This helps us prioritise maintenance in Suffolk using a risk-based approach.
“Roads in Ipswich are not classified differently to any other town in Suffolk.
“Concrete roads, historically, were overlaid with a thin asphalt material to reduce the noise of the exposed concrete.
“This is now wearing off leaving an unsightly and uneven road surface, however these do not meet our current criteria for intervention as we must prioritise against more severe defects, on more heavily used roads.
“The Department for Transport provides Suffolk with annual maintenance allocations which unfortunately do not allow us to do all the works that we would like to do.
“When Suffolk Highways is planning larger scale improvement works which may change the layout of a junction, for example, early engagement is made with representative groups.
“These can include access groups, bus firms and cyclist groups to ensure that all road users’ needs are considered during a scheme’s development.
“When Suffolk Highways is at the stage of construction, all our planned works are available for viewing on roadworks.org.”
Members of the public are welcome to attend Thursday’s scrutiny committee, which takes place at Grafton House in Russell Road from 6pm.
Mr Smart added that groups such as bus and taxi firms, cycling groups and the borough council’s area committees should be told of upcoming work on Ipswich’s roads to ensure people were fully informed.