Pothole repairs may cost millions

PUBLISHED: 09:40 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:08 01 August 2010

SUFFOLK'S transport chief has promised potholes in the county's roads will be repaired this winter - even though experts have warned the work could cost millions.

SUFFOLK'S transport chief has promised potholes in the county's roads will be repaired this winter - even though experts have warned the work could cost millions.

Guy McGregor, transport spokesman for Suffolk County Council, made his promise amid growing concern that local authorities could be forced to spend ten times last year's budget on emergency repairs this winter.

Mr McGregor said: “We do have a budget and we can't throw money around, but we will carry out emergency repairs whenever and wherever they are needed and then look at the cost of that at the end of the season.

“Our teams are working hard to fill in potholes that are reported to us - and we will be continuing to do that as needed.”

Roads across the country are already showing signs of crumbling away after this winter's snow and ice gave way to slush and water.

Normally the worst period for potholes is at the end of the winter - but this year's early snow and ice has led to fears that the “pothole season” could be much longer and more expensive.

County officials still hope that the total bill to repair potholes in 2010 will be no more than last year's £1million, but Colin Loveday, from the Asphalt Industries Association, warned that a lack of routine maintenance was adding to the problems.

He said: “The problem is that many councils have switched from pro-active road repairs - resurfacing before serious problems arise - to reactive work. They are coming under pressure to cut costs and they see the routine maintenance budget as one area that can be trimmed.”

Mr Loveday said another pressure was the cost of motorists' claims for damage to their vehicles which could come out of the same budget.

And he warned that by cutting routine maintenance expenditure last year, the cost of the repairs this time could be much greater.

“You could be in a position where an authority has to spend 10 times what it spent last year on repairing potholes and that leaves even less for routine maintenance,” he said.

Mr McGregor said the county was determined to continue with routine maintenance during the rest of the year in an attempt to prevent the need for emergency repairs.

“Surface dressing of roads with is done during the summer months is a relatively inexpensive way of sealing the roads and preventing potholes from developing.

“There are pressures on the budget, but we have increased the amount we are spending on routine maintenance and I hope we are able to continue to do that.

“But to some extent we will have to look at the situation at the end of the winter when we know exactly what we have had to spend on emergency repairs.”

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