Nearly a third of roads in Suffolk were closed for longer than estimated to enable works to take place during the last five years, according to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The EADT has obtained data from Suffolk County Council showing that out of 7,847 road closures since the financial year 2018/19, some 2,152 went beyond the estimated completion date.

During 2022/23, roads in the county were closed for 6,710 days, compared to 5,700 days the year before, although in 2019/20, there were 7,730 days of closures.

READ MORE: 5 Suffolk roadworks to avoid on your journey this week

There has also been a steady rise in the number of road closures during each financial year, with 1,880 in 2022/23 and 1,921 in 2021/22.

Meanwhile, in 2018/19, there were 1,275 closures, while in 2019/20, there were 1,335 closures.

The amount of money spent by the council's highways department has increased from £50.4 million in 2018/19 to £60.4 million in 2022/23.

READ MORE: New speed limits in Suffolk villages near A14 roadworks

However, the money spent was within the budget allocated to the highways team during each of the five financial years.

A spokesperson for the county council's highways team said the roadworks schemes could range from 'simple patching works' to more complex drainage improvement schemes and structures work, including bridges.

She added with more complex projects, timescales can change as works commence, even after an original preparation and investigation had been conducted by the highways team.

READ MORE: Roads closed in Ipswich, Sudbury and Friston in Suffolk

She said the original timescale needed to be adapted to these changes in the works.

"The right thing to do is complete the works, even if they have changed and that may sometimes mean that Suffolk Highways occupy the road network and have road closures in place for longer than initially planned.  

"The alternative is to stop works whilst they’re incomplete, make the site safe and remove any equipment and leave the site allowing the road to reopen.  

"Suffolk Highways will then need to return to site at a later date, re-establish equipment, re-excavate and complete the works.  

READ MORE: Suffolk news

"In this scenario, it is likely that total road occupancy and length of road closure (when adding the original closure with the new closure) will likely be greater than in the scenario where works are achieved at one visit, recognising that any overrun impacts road users," the spokesperson said.

Another factor that can influence the completion time is the weather, while occasionally permits are not closed correctly on the council's system.

The spokesperson recognised that any closure would have an impact, but said that in 2022/23 around 73% of permits were completed and road closures removed in time.

She explained that the number of road closures could increase depending on the levels of investment, as well as where the works took place.

For example, she said the county council made an additional £21m available over a four year period over and above the usual Department for Transport funding, while there was a further £20m investment by the council between 2021-25 for drainage and pavement improvement works.

She added that some cases, roadworks can be supported by temporary traffic signals or 'Stop/Go' boards, avoiding the need for full road closures.

"The volume of road closures can therefore naturally ebb and flow depending on work type and their location within the highway network.

"In terms of highway projects, reactive repairs will always be the greatest in terms of number than other planned works such as resurfacing, drainage repairs and replacement or planned maintenance works to structures and bridges."