POSTED BY SURREYNEWS ⋅ MARCH 18, 2013
The Surrey County Council Election (May 2nd) is just over a month away and I’ve been out there knocking on doors. One of the frequently asked questions relates to the roads, particularly potholes – or sometimes potholes that are not classifiable as potholes – but I don’t want to be too technical. I’ve had no complaints about gritting main roads this year -Surrey CC were well prepared for what the weather could throw at us, but keeping up with the repair or replacement of our over-used roads is another matter entirely. I understand that because of the extremes amounts of rainfall we experienced during the Autumn of 2012, water leaked through from the road surfaces to the lower levels. Then the freezing & thawing during the colder winter periods caused cracks to appear. SCC operate an excellent pothole reporting & monitoring scheme (via the SCC website), but keeping up has been difficult. Roads do not last for ever, they have a finite life. So the announcement of Operation Horizon (see below) comes as good news. Sadly £120m to be spent over five years will only scratch the surface (excuse pun please). I understand that approx. 16% of our worst roads in Surrey will be replaced or repaired to a level that will hopefully guarantee their suitability for several years. Sadly I’m also having to remind residents that Surrey are poorly funded by comparison with the vast majority of other County Councils. Also, although HMG have reduced the Deficit. the National debt is increasing. I believe that the interest on our National Debt amounts to more than £200m per day. Just imagine – if UK had no National Debt, we could afford to repair all of the roads in Surrey within one week! As things stand we’ll be lucky to repair them within 30 years, by which time they’ll be needing to be repaired again. At least the rate of interest we are paying on the National Debt is much less than some of our Eurozone neighbours are having to contend with. Our target has to be to keep reducing the Deficit -if we don’t we risk having higher interest rates imposed on us -then where will we be??
On that note please read on…………..
Plans to improve Surrey’s roads by increasing pothole inspections by up to 200% are set to be agreed at a meeting of the county council’s Cabinet next week.
Surrey’s busiest roads are inspected four times a year, but under the new proposals this would increase to once a month, making it easier to prioritise and plan resurfacing work.
The new approach also involves planning pothole repairs further in advance so that more permanent repairs can be made first time, instead of temporary fixes.
This improved planning would also make it easier for clusters of potholes to be repaired together, rather than revisiting a road to make repairs a small number or even one at a time.
Nonetheless, the two hour deadline for responding to potholes and other defects that pose a serious safety risk will remain.
The proposals come just weeks after the county council announced it will replace 310 miles of Surrey’s worst roads as part of a five-year, £100 million investment in highways called Operation Horizon. This will address a major priority for Surrey residents and businesses while helping to boost the economy.
John Furey, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “By inspecting our roads more often and through planning pothole repairs up to five days ahead, we can make more permanent fixes first time and set aside the time to repair more of the defects in a road at once.
“We make more temporary pothole repairs than we would like at the moment, because our workers are dashing from road to road each time one is reported. This clearly isn’t the most efficient way to work. It also means if workers discover other problems with a road when they are on site, they often don’t have time to fix them on the spot. These new proposals would help us address this.
“However, prevention is better than cure so we’re investing £100 million over five years in overhauling 310 miles of Surrey’s worst roads. This means our major road maintenance budget has gone from £12 million to £20 million a year.”
The plans also involve reviewing Surrey’s road classification system. This would see the county council’s roads split into five categories instead of three and the introduction of modern data to see which roads now carry the most traffic. This will mean the council is better placed to prioritise and plan repairs and improvements.
Members of Surrey County Council’s Cabinet will meet to discuss the proposals on Tuesday March 26. The plans form part of an overall re organisation of the county council’s highways department which has resulted in annual savings of £8 million through more efficient working. Surrey’s approach has proven so successful that the county council is working with Government to improve the efficiency of highways maintenance nationally.