Warning over state of county’s ‘substantially weakened’ roads
ROAD engineers in Suffolk fear the damage to the county’s highways could be very serious.
They fear frosts have weakened many miles of road – and are preparing to battle with the county’s finance department to ensure they get enough money to maintain and improve the network.
In a report to the full meeting of the county council on Thursday, Suffolk’s cabinet member with responsibility for highways and transport will say that work to repair potholes that opened up during the winter was completed over the summer.
Guy McGregor will tell them that the work was helped by �1.5 million of extra money for emergency repairs and a government grant of almost �2 million for permanent road repairs.
However he will warn: “We remain concerned at the long term damage caused to the structure of our roads by the penetrating frosts of the last two winters.”
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The report continues: “It is clear that the penetrating frosts have substantially weakened a number of roads. Road condition investigations are currently underway and these should help us to identify the extent of this damage and monitor the overall deterioration of the network.”
The number of potholes reported by members of the public in 2009/10 was about 3,000, up from 1,800 the previous year. Many more than these figures were dealt with after being found during council inspections.
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Mr McGregor said he was very pleased that all the potholes either reported to the council or discovered during inspections had been repaired by the middle of summer.
Engineers in the department are working to try to ensure that financial cuts to the county council do not significantly reduce the amount of money available to repair and improve Suffolk’s road network.
Mr McGregor has already said that he regards the maintenance of good roads as being the most important aspect of his job on the cabinet.
His staff feel that their efforts over the last few months have meant that Suffolk’s roads are in a better condition than those in many other similar counties.
However some are becoming increasingly concerned that budget cuts could leave them able to do little more than patch up potholes that open up.
One official said: “We know that financially things are going to get tough, but it does cost money to keep roads properly maintained.
“If budgets are cut too deeply it will leave us unable to do much more than just patch potholes – and that would be a disaster for the county.”