EXCLUSIVE by Matt Gaw
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
AN extra three million pounds will be spent on the county’s crumbling and potholed roads, it can be revealed today.
Following damage caused by rain, snow and ice, the cash will be poured into emergency pothole repairs, maintenance of major trunk roads and put towards the replacement of stretches of aging concrete carriageways.
Road bosses, who yesterday said maintenance and permanent repairs had been hampered by wet weather followed by freezing temperatures, are confident they will be “be on top” of potholes in the forthcoming season.
The action comes as Suffolk garages and the AA said potholes were behind an increase in the number of cars left with damaged wheels, springs and suspensions.
Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for roads and transport, said engineers were prioritising dangerous potholes and admitted sorting out weather-beaten highways would be a “challenge.”
He added: “The role of the county council is to make sure that any dangerous potholes are dealt with as quickly as possible. We fill them and do a temporary repair to get it done quickly, rather than a longer, pristine job.
“Permanent repairs have to be judged when the conditions settle down; you can’t do much when you’ve got lousy weather.”
Mr McGregor said: “Of course, we’ve now got snow again, we’ve got water coming in and it’s going to be a real challenge for us. But I believe that for the money I’ve got available, I will be able to keep on top of the potholes and have them in good order by the summer, so when the surface dressing programme comes along we can seal the carriageway.
“I am quietly confident we can tackle it in the forthcoming season.”
A spokesman for the county council said an additional £3million of Government money would be handed to county hall to help repair roads, with the first work scheduled to start soon.
But Mr McGregor said he did not want the money to be just a “finger in the dyke”.
He added: “I’m particularly keen to look at some of the concrete roads built way back. You find them on estates in Ipswich built just after the war when tarmac was more expensive. They now look unsightly, and although not a danger as such, they do present a difficulty as a road surface.
“We will also look at the main roads going into Ipswich, with repair work and additional money going into that.”
The roads boss said money would also be used to look at damage caused to the county’s road by HGVs, an issue he believes is causing “considerable disquiet.”
Mr McGregor said he is currently looking at creating an app to make reporting potholes more efficient.
He added: “In many ways we’re trying to be ahead of the game so we can put things right before they become a big problem. It’s about early intervention.”
Across the county, mechanics have said an increase in coil spring failures and tyre damage was due to poor roads.
Daniel Jarman, owner of the Hillside Service Centre in Bury St Edmunds, said he was seeing more problems with suspensions than five years previously.
He added: “It’s the poor state of the roads. All the potholes about does make a difference.”
David Martin, of Motor Engineers, Thurston, said he was seeing more frequent suspension damage to springs, associated steering geometry and wheels. He added: “Obviously the vehicles are travelling on very uneven surfaces, and with the roads being as they are, that contributes to road springs. We’re only a little village garage and we put two a week on. Ten or 15 years ago, one a month would be busy.”
The AA said that wintry weather and the state of the roads has been a key factor in damage to cars, with grit also causing springs and components to corrode.
The company claimed that insurance claims for pothole-related damage on Britain’s roads more than doubled in January compared to the same month last year, according to the AA.
Over four weeks, an estimated 1,000 cars in the UK were seriously damaged by potholes. According to a study of nearly 23,000 AA members, a third said that they had suffered some damage to their vehicle caused by a pothole.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance said “Pothole damage is bad enough, but those making insurance claims are saying that there has been serious damage to suspension, steering and bodywork as well.
“In some cases, the driver has lost control or swerved to try to avoid the pothole and hit something else.”