Snow Thaws to Reveal Severely Damaged Roads

PUBLISHED: 11:01 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010

A MAMMOTH task assessing the damage to roads and making repairs following the severe weather conditions is looming for Herts Highways. The county council partnership which is responsible for roads is asking people to be patient about repairs after the wor

A MAMMOTH task assessing the damage to roads and making repairs following the severe weather conditions is looming for Herts Highways.

The county council partnership which is responsible for roads is asking people to be patient about repairs after the worst conditions in 30 years.

Roads have been exposed to a condition known as freeze-thaw which damages them in wet and freezing conditions. Water in cracks in the road expands into ice causing the surface of the road to break up and deeper than usual potholes to form.

Since Monday, January 11, Herts Highways has had around 30 teams out each day filling in holes that have formed during the cold weather.

Stuart Pile, the county council's executive member for highways and transport, said: "In 2009. a fortnight of snow and cold temperatures did a year's worth of damage to our roads.

"This damage came with a price tag of £16 million for all the repairs needed and - with the rest of the country in the same situation - the government is still assessing our claim for extra funding to meet these costs.

"We don't yet know what a month of snow and sub-zero temperatures has down to Hertfordshire's roads and it is far too early to get the full scale of the problem but we are anticipating that the damage will be serious and costly to repair."

He explained that once the snow and ice on the roads had thawed, Herts Highways would be sending out teams to survey the roads to try and work out which areas were most in need of repair and the cost of doing it.

But he warned that if sub-zero temperatures continued and more snow fell, they would have to wait for it to clear before carrying out the road survey.

Cllr Pile went on: "We have experience from last year's successful short-term recovery campaign when we fixed over 15,000 potholes at a cost of around £1.1 million. Then as now our approach will be to take a week or two to assess the situation properly but quickly so we can take a planned approach to a programme of urgent repairs.

"In the meantime we will keep the roads safe, if unsightly - if necessary using quick-setting or temporary materials to deal with immediate hazards."

He said that funding would be an issue with central government asking the county council to reduce its spending but Herts Highways would be exploring all avenues for additional funding from government.

He added: "We will also have to absorb the cost of all the salting runs that were necessary to keep the county moving. At the end of last week (January 7) our operations for the whole winter had cost us in the region of £2.1 million.

Residents can report damaged roads and pavements at www.hertsdirect.org/highwayfaults

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