Winter weather could cause road maintenance problems

PUBLISHED: 18:01 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:16 17 June 2010

DEVON County Council has warned that the recent freezing temperatures will cause maintenance problems on the county s roads. The prolonged cold spell could create further deterioration in the network which will add to the existing £215 million backlog of

DEVON County Council has warned that the recent freezing temperatures will cause maintenance problems on the county's roads.

The prolonged cold spell could create further deterioration in the network which will add to the existing £215 million backlog of repairs.

At low temperatures the road surface can become stiffer and can result in cracking or an increase in existing cracking, chippings can loosen and potholes can form.

Devon spends around £7million per year on patching works - with over £2 million of this on reactive safety work such as pothole repairs. The additional reactive maintenance that may be required due to the weather could cost an extra £2million above the normal budget spending.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "It is too early to predict the scale of damage caused by this prolonged cold spell but it could double the demand for reactive maintenance over the coming months. Reactive repairs have little effect on reducing the maintenance backlog but are necessary to keep roads in a safe condition. Devon is responsible for the biggest road network in the country with almost 8,000 miles to maintain, and while the winter weather will no doubt leave our roads even more vulnerable we will continue to do our best within our limited budget."

Over the past three months, sub zero temperatures have created exceptional demand for road salting. From the first treatment on 27 October to 12 January, gritters have turned out on 68 occasions, using 8,800 tonnes of salt at a cost of £515,000. That number of callouts equals last year's total figure for the whole winter.

An extra 6,000 tonnes of salt has been delivered to cope with increased workload, as road temperatures have dropped to as low as -10 C.

During the past week the County Council's Highway Operations Control Centre has experienced an increase in reports of burst water mains, receiving 270 requests for assistance from South West Water when there has been the risk of leaking water turning to ice on road surfaces.


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