Making Hampshire’s roads resilient to the impact of increasingly heavy traffic and the effects of extreme weather, such as snow, freezing temperatures and flooding, is the aim of our annual programme of planned highways maintenance works. Starting next month, this is a key element of the County Council’s long-term strategy to ‘future-proof’ the road network.
Good roads are a vital part of Hampshire’s infrastructure and essential for the county’s economic success and future prosperity. Ours is the fourth longest local authority road network in the country, with the 2011 Census indicating that there are more cars using it than in any other county. Therefore, we are always looking at how new technology can best tackle repairs in the most cost-effective way. The planned maintenance programme, which includes drainage as well as road and pavement surface repairs, operates alongside our rolling routine and reactive maintenance programmes.
Our key priority is to provide a safe, well managed, maintained and resilient road network. All roads and footpaths are inspected at frequencies which ensure that deterioration due to normal wear and tear is identified in good time. Additional inspections are carried out in response to reports from the public. Potentially hazardous defects are made a priority as part of our day-to-day reactive repair activities. Planned maintenance schemes are all assessed for importance and those with the highest scores are added to the annual works programme each April. Available funding is matched to sites that have the greatest need. Schemes which are not added to the current programme are not lost. They are reconsidered every year and their condition kept under review. To find out more about how we manage Hampshire’s roads, or to report any problems go to www.hants.gov.uk/roads
Hampshire has around 5,300 miles of roads - that’s equivalent to travelling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back, three and a half times
Around 800,000 cars use the road network (2011 Census)
The County Council’s annual highways maintenance budget is around £54 million
Communities have more say in the upkeep of local paths and roads and can play an active role in improving their environment. The Parish Lengthsman scheme operates in 43 parishes, with another 40 parishes expressing an interest to join. The lengthsman is a historic role, responsible for walking the ‘length of the parish’ to ensure that ditches and drains are clear. Tasks for the modern lengthsman can include ditch clearing, maintenance of grass verges, sign cleaning and any other minor issues that local communities identify as significant to them. A key duty is ensuring drains and gullies do not become blocked – an important measure to guard against flooding. Recognising the benefits of community involvement, we work with the parish councils to avoid duplication of scheduled maintenance work. Funding of £1,000 is available to parish councils taking up the scheme. For communities, it means that small highways jobs can be managed locally and carried out quickly. Parishes can either employ their own lengthsman or commission a lengthsman service via the County Council.
Steve Cattell, Vice Chair of Minstead Parish Council explains the advantage of the scheme:
“Our Parish Lengthsman, Stephen Short, can respond quickly to resident reports of minor issues. He is someone who knows the village well and he just gets on and does what needs to be done.”
Keeping Hampshire moving