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Suffolk prepares for war with potholes after cold weather damages roads

PUBLISHED: 17:30 06 March 2018

Highways engineers are expecting more potholes to develop.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Highways engineers are expecting more potholes to develop. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Engineers from Suffolk Highways are preparing for all-out war with the county’s potholes over the next few weeks after last week’s snow and ice.

The conditions were perfect for creating potholes – and Suffolk Highways was already receiving thousands of calls about road problems before the big freeze.

In the first two months of 2018 it received 11,000 pothole reports – in 2017 it received 6,000 in the first two months and 19,000 over the whole year.

Officials are expecting the number to increase over the next few weeks as the effects of the big freeze become clear.

Extra road gangs to tackle potholes have been created across the county and a spokesman for Suffolk Highways said this meant some other routine repairs might be delayed as temporary repairs were undertaken.

He said: “Following our extremely busy week gritting and responding to snow clearance, our priority has now moved back to assessing and repairing pothole defects.

“We are pooling all of our available resource to manage incoming reports and get these defects assessed and if necessary, repaired, as soon as possible. In the meantime, we encourage all motorists to take care and drive to the conditions of the road.

“When letting us know about a defect, please check the reporting tool first in case it has already been reported, if it has then rest assured it’s ready and waiting to be assessed.

“During this time we urge people to report only urgent issues, so that this gives us chance to manage the most pressing needs first.”

He warned that in some areas where a number of potholes had opened up, gangs might only be able to deal immediately with the worst ones before moving on to other sites.

And Suffolk Highways officials were looking forward to the spring and summer when they would be able to get on with more long-term road repairs after the county borrowed money to help increase the number of miles of road that could get long-term repairs.

It hopes to rebuild a quarter of Suffolk’s roads by March 2021 after borrowing £21m to carry out the repairs over the next three years.

The spokesman said: “Hopefully these repairs will mean the roads should be clear for 10 to 15 years – but we cannot start on that until the weather is warmer.”

Essex boosts its road crews to tackle damage from the big freeze

Essex county council is also expecting a rash of new potholes on its roads after the big freeze last week.

It has 20 of its own crews working on emergency and longer-term repairs – and is also getting help from the private sector.

A spokeswoman for Essex Highways said: “We have added an additional ten crews from our partner companies, which we’ve funded through the Government’s pothole fund.

“Even with this extra workforce tackling potholes, it will still take some time to work through the faults, so we are asking road users to be patient. From April 1, the council is investing an extra £3 million in pothole repairs.”

Meanwhile Witham MP Priti Patel called on the government and Highways England to make sure the A12 and A120 in Essex were properly maintained.

She said: “Our road network has taken a battering in recent days. The damage caused poses a risk to safety and could also damage vehicles with debris and potholes.”

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