Striking out potholes on roads in the New Forest and Test Valley
Wednesday 6 March 2013
In common with the rest of the country, roads in the New Forest and Test Valley districts are suffering a surge in potholes following one of the wettest years on record, leading to the highest ground water levels since the extensive floods in 2000 and then a prolonged period of freezing temperatures.
Reports of road defects, including potholes, has risen to twice the number it was a year ago due to the saturated ground. In response, Hampshire County Council is taking urgent, emergency action to re-focus its maintenance resources in March and April and step up pothole repairs in the two districts.
Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council said: "We will be increasing the number of gangs fixing potholes in these two districts where the issue of potholes is significantly worse than the rest of the county. They will be using a combination of specialist patching techniques such as jet patching, as well as traditional hot treatment patching to tackle this pothole problem. Some temporary pothole repairs will still be necessary however, at those sites where the pothole poses a safety risk, until we can arrange permanent repairs."
Explaining the reasons for the increasing number of potholes, Councillor Kendal, said: "With all the rainfall we have had over the past 12 months, as well as the more recent snow fall and extended period of freezing temperatures, our roads have been under constant attack from water. Whether it is water getting into cracks on the roads surface, water from under ground affecting the road surface base, seepage from ditches or water run-off from fields and higher ground, there is no escape for the carriageway."
He continued: "Added to this is the damaging effect caused by repeated freezing and thawing. When water freezes and expands, this causes the road surface to break up and when the ice melts a space is left below the surface leading it to collapse under the weight of traffic. Eventually a pothole forms and it is impossible to predict accurately where and when they will appear."
Alongside the pothole repair work, highways gangs will also be checking and clearing highways drainage and the County Council is asking private landowners and householders to check and clear ditches on their property. Councillor Kendal said: "Every householder and land owner has a responsibility to ensure ditches on their land are clear to ensure water can flow away freely. They also have responsibility for the drainage within their boundary of ownership to the point where it connects with highways drainage and sewer mains."
Councillor Kendal concluded: "Across the county we have 5028 miles of road to look after and as much as we would like to fix everything at once, the reality is that this is just not possible but we do recognise the urgent need to take action where it is most needed."
On other roads the County Council's planned maintenance strategy to make them more resilient to extremes in weather and increased volumes of traffic - Operation Resilience - will continue apace. This strategy has resulted in around 120 miles of Hampshire's road network and 20 miles of footway receiving a new surface treatment or being resurfaced in 2012, in addition to completion of 40 separate schemes to improve highways drainage and footways across the county. The programme, which has a budget of £22 million for 2013-14, represents the County Council's commitment to long-term investment in planned structural maintenance, an approach that aims to ensure Hampshire's roads are strengthened and remain in good condition for longer.