Pothole problems to cost millions

PUBLISHED: 09:13 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

Potholes have opened up overnight after the heavy snow, rain and frosts

Potholes have opened up overnight after the heavy snow, rain and frosts

MILLIONS of pounds could need to be spent on weather-damaged county roads in the wake of the snow, heavy rain and frost. Cllr Stuart Pile, Herts County Council s executive member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said yesterday (Wednesday) that

MILLIONS of pounds could need to be spent on weather-damaged county roads in the wake of the snow, heavy rain and frost.

Cllr Stuart Pile, Herts County Council's executive member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said yesterday (Wednesday) that they would almost certainly have to take another look at the pothole programme and would probably have to divert funds from routine maintenance.

He admitted that roads he was using had lost their surface practically overnight and that the damage to roads in villages like London Colney and Colney Heath, which were hit by flooding on Tuesday, could not be quantified until the water had gone right down.

He has already asked Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England, to consider emergency funding for road repairs and she has agreed that local authorities could submit figures to her.

Cllr Pile said that for 25 years or more, road maintenance in the county had been underfunded and four years ago the county council had established that an additional £120 to £150 million would be needed to bring Herts roads back up to a good standard.

But the Government had stopped them borrowing the money and since then they had spent around £32 million on resurfacing about one-third of the road network. But he added: "It is never enough - it's like painting the Forth Bridge."

More than £90 million is in the current budget and a highways committee was due to meet yesterday to look at the current situation. Cllr Pile said: "If we have to divert funding into emergency maintenance we will have to do it."

Although roads throughout the county are inspected annually, the scale of the deterioration is such that he invited people to report them either on the county council's direct lines at 01438 737320 or 01923 471320 or via the website www.hertsdirect.org/highwayfaults

He added: "We are triaging people on the phone or on the web to decide if potholes can be left to be filled in more permanently or have to be treated as an emergency."

Even before the damage to the roads became evident, the county council admitted it expected to overspend by more than £1 million this year for winter maintenance.

That is based on the estimated likely number of gritting runs before the end of the "season" in April.

The final figure for keeping the roads salted is projected to be around £4.3 million and while there is a contingency fund built into the budget, the current weather, on top of the pre-Christmas snow, has eaten up most of it.

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