Severe weather over the past year and significant flooding countywide has placed pressure on the county’s highways resulting in the highway service battling to patch and repair defects and potholes.
We have received an increase in reports of damage to the roads and have been prioritising the work we do to keep the roads safe. As a result, working with our contractors at Amey, our immediate action has been towards what needs to be done now to keep the roads safe, and given the volume of work required some of these repairs are only temporary fixes.
In order to address this, a three part plan has been put in place.
Firstly, work is already underway to carry out emergency repairs. The council has identified over £2.25 Million of flood damage to the highway and has applied for the funding to support this under a Central Government funding scheme. The programmes to deliver flood damage repairs, repair high priority potholes and patch up the county’s roads will continue and we have already spend over £1.4 Million on flood damage repairs in the last 3 months alone.
Whilst these emergency works are beneficial, they do not address the long term problem of deteriorated roads.
The county has just over 2,000 miles of roads. Around 258 miles of these roads need long-term permanent works to prevent further deterioration and of these, 21 miles are on A-roads.
The government has committed to provide an additional £2.4m over the next two years for Herefordshire’s road maintenance programme. In order kick-start a programme of pro-active maintenance work the council is planning to bring forward £1.5m of this funding.
The programme of maintenance works for the coming year is based on surveys of road conditions with investment targeted at those roads that present the greatest risk. Details of the programme will be announced in March with more substantial maintenance works commencing that month.
The council will be keen avoid disruption caused by these works and will be keeping motorists informed of where works will be taking place on the weekly roadwork’s page of the website.
Bringing the roads back to a sustainable condition requires significant investment which is above and beyond that which currently available to the council.
Councillor Graham Powell, cabinet member for infrastructure and education, said: “We are aware that this is a major concern to local people and we are investigating ways to address this.
“If we had the cash to carry out the maintenance work needed, the cycle of repairing defects and potholes could be broken. This will require a multi million pound investment and we simply don’t have enough money available now to carry out all the work required.
“But if we can carry out permanent, long-term work at locations presenting the greatest risk to our communities now, it will reduce the need for more costly, short term, reactive repairs at a later date.
“Therefore the third part of our plan forms part of the re-procurement of our highways contract. We are looking at ways to work with the private sector to help address this long term problem by investing in the network to reduce future maintenance costs.”