Tuesday, September 9, 2008


After months of commuting along Hills Road by bike, it seemed like a good idea to get someone from the Council out on their bike to see first hand the state of some of the roads in Coleridge and used for commuting by Coleridge residents.

And so on an unusually dry morning last week I met with the highways officer responsible for road maintenance in the South of the City and a representative from Cambridge Cycle Campaign for a cycle tour. The main aim was to look at some of the worst surfaces and any other issues we came across, find out which ones can be tackled from within the very limited road maintenance budgets and get them on to the Council's radar. It was very useful for me as a local Councillor - I think I ended up with more issues on my list to look into. It turned into 2 hours of 'potholing' - the most interesting thing I learnt was that Hills Road is built over concrete slabs - due to the use of the road for transporting tanks in the war (I wonder if anyone can remember this?). Unfortunately it is the concrete slabs moving as plates that have caused the damage to the surface near the Catholic Church, and make it hard to effect permanent repairs. This post wouldn't be complete without a picture of the type of issue we were looking at!

There were various potholes that have been added to the list of areas needing repair. The main issues covered were as follows:

Repair of road surface following work by utility companies: some of the reinstatements are terrible, with the tarmac being squeezed out immediately creating a ski-jump effect. I requested that the Council gets much tougher with contractors who don't re-instate the road well after roadworks - a particular example is Hills Rd outside Purbeck Road. The EDF works on Cherry Hinton Road are an example of good reinstatement - I won't name the company that appears to be responsible for some of the worst resurfacing, but we know who they are!

The Tins path (Coldhams Lane to Mill Road): There will be some immediate repairs where there are dangerous (i.e. deep) ruts, but a more substantial resurfacing is due later with money from the Cycling demonstration towns award Cambridge. I requested the Council looks into purchasing a strip of land to widen the path as it is currently narrow as well as uneven (I understand this may already be under consideration). Snakey path could do with some support under the path next to the stream, but it is going to be difficult to make this significantly better.

Love Lane, Cherry Hinton: Surface maintenance works planned - scope and timetable to be confirmed.

Cherry Hinton Road outside CH Hall - remove temporary folk festival tarmac 'ramps'.

Add reflector/fluorescent markings to central bollard on southern approach to Carter cycle bridge. I am already trying to get the pedestrian path on Rustat Rd extended to the bridge.

Devonshire Rd cycle lane off carter bridge: Agreed not 'dangerous' so won't get maintenance work. This illustrates the limitation of maintenance budgets. In view of its importance as a cycle lane, I've requested that this is considered for resurfacing as part of the capital program of repairs, or as part of a planning agreement for the potential station area redevelopment.

Hole opposite Mills and Reeve/outside Centennial Hotel on Hills Road to be patched - I think this may already have been done.

The block work on Bateman Street at the junction of Hills Road is very loose and uneven - this is already planned for relaying, hopefully in the near future.

My main area of concern is the road surface around the Hills Road/Lensfield Road junction, with the potholes on the approach that can't be avoided due to the lines of traffic, the sunken drain in the middle of the junction, and bizarre ridge on southbound approach. I hope there will be some maintenance here, but as mentioned above, the concrete base for supporting tanks make it very difficult to make a long term repair...

Many thanks to the County Council for their help!


Jill Pollock said...

Thank you for checking this out. I have reported this problem a few times using the website Fix My Street and I think the Hills Rd/Lensfield Rd potholes are a major accident waiting to happen.

Chris Howell said...

I had also reported Hills Road on FixMyStreet just before being elected so it was good to get someone from the Council out on a bike to look at it. I hope there will be some repairs here in the near future, but I think the concrete base issue is a real problem as it means repairs are relatively temporary, and it would be hugely expensive/disruptive to remove the slabs and rebuild the road... I'll chase up in a little while to check what exactly is planned for this problem...

Richard J said...

Regarding the block work at the end of Bateman Street I find it galling that the tarmac was replaced with this block work some years ago and it has not proved durable. Maybe the cheapest option, in the long term, is to return it to tarmac, as has been done at the Drummer St/Emmunuel Rd junction recently.

I pleased that you got the highways officer out on a bike — I think you get quite a different view. It would be great to look at Cherry Hinton Road from Mowbray Road east as it's a mass of potholes. They were marked many weeks ago but no repairs to date.

Although you mention the reinstatement on CHR by EDF they haven't replaced the anti-skid surface or coloured tarmac for the cycle advanced stop line at the CHR/Coleridge Rd junction.

Elaine Taylor said...

I work as a structural engineer and have come across a company called Uretek who have experience improving the ground below concrete slabs with minimum disruption and fast programme. The do this by pressure injecting a resin underneath to improve the bearing and can actually lift slabs back into position.

See link for case study specifically relevant to sunken road slabs, working for Southampton City Council:

Daniel Dignam said...

Regarding the entrance to Carter Bridge from Rustat Rd. The Pedstrian path extension path would also improve the visibility for cyclists entering the bridge. I frequently go that way with 2 young children, and I know that one day they are going to be hit by a cyclists coming down the bridge on the 'wrong side'. The visibility is extremely poor, no matter how slow you go it's virtually impossible to see up the bridge before you've gone round the corner.

James Gilbert said...

Interesting that Hills Road is built on concrete slabs. Cycling along it this morning I could see lines across the road in the tarmac where the slabs join. But I don't think this excuses the bad surface in the cycle lane going from the Catholic Church where it has been dug up a lot to access services.

Tom said...

I'd say Hills Road is the worst in terms of this 'slab' pothole effect right now but I also notice it on Regent Street and Station Road as well, and recently it's becoming apparent on Sidney Street too. Was this an intended tank route from the city centre to the railway station?

I'd be interested to understand why the slabs are now causing this issue all over town after decades of the roads being just fine.