Thursday, March 4, 2010

Potholes Update

City and County Councillors were briefed on Tuesday by officers from the County Council about the scourge of potholes across the City.

It is pretty clear that the whole Country is suffering from huge numbers of potholes after the winter weather, not just Cambridgeshire - with temperatures hovering around zero for weeks, the repeated freeze-thaw cycles have done immense damage that is going to take a long while to recover from.

There are currently around 2,000 potholes reported, about 165 a week are being fixed, so it is going to take months to clear the backlog.

The County Council are doing all they can to get roads back to a usable state:
  • Extra funding has been made available for potholes, and they are spending next year's budget early. Repairs are not being held up by lack of funding, but because all road maintenance crews are already working flat out - you can't simply get crews from other parts of the Country, as everywhere is suffering.
  • Fixing potholes will take priority over more routine maintenance - this will likely affect the current and next year's routine maintenance programme.
  • It is difficult to do good permanent repairs in cold weather - the usual approach is a temporary patch then replace with a proper repair later. The temporary patches were lasting so little time, they indicated they would now try effecting a permanent repair first time - but this will also mean more potholes wait longer for attention.
  • Finally, the County has changed the way it prioritises work - it is drawing up new priority lists on a weekly or even daily basis, to tackle the worst areas.
The message was that members of the public should carry on reporting potholes, but be aware it may take a long while to get round to them. I tend to use to report problems (don't get me started on why the County Council can't post updates to this website - they say they can't provide updates, but that is patently ridiculous - they are now trying to reinvent the wheel and write some software of their own taking great time and expense...).

I do have suggestions for improving the situation in future years - I don't think the highways inspectors are proactive enough in getting utilities etc who dig up roads to replace the surfacing to a very high standard. They are allowed to make temporary repairs then come back, but this doesn't always happen.

But ultimately I think it is clear that keeping road surfaces in good condition, particularly in Cambridge where we have a lot of cyclists, is just an area of the budget that needs more funding if we want our roads to start the winter in reasonable good condition...

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