Out on the road with pothole inspectors

A thorough inspection of Gloucestershire County Council’s roads is underway to determine what affect the severe weather has had.
The past two winters have caused major problems on the roads with the council repairing around 90,000 potholes in 2010 alone – more than the previous three years combined.
Following the bout of snow and freezing temperatures throughout December and early January, it is likely that the roads have suffered further damage.

Today, Cllr Stan Waddington, cabinet member for environment, went out with one of the inspection teams to see for himself how the county’s 3,500 miles of roads have fared.
Initial reports show that while there is damage on the network, the scale of repairs is not as bad as last year.
Cllr Waddington said: “It’s no secret that snow and ice cause the roads to crack, which leads to potholes forming so I was keen to see for myself how this latest bad weather had affected us.
“We know there are still some problem areas and we’re working hard to address that – but in actual fact, at first glance, the situation seems better this time round.
“We repaired an unprecedented amount of potholes last year and we carried out a lot of work to seal the roads against bad weather and this has helped prepare the roads for this winter.
“Within the next couple of weeks, the full inspection should be complete and we’ll have a clear picture of the task facing us in 2011.
“Whatever we find, please be assured that we are taking action and that we will do all we can to repair Gloucestershire’s roads.
“However, as we all know, money is tight so we will continue to prioritise what we do.”

The inspection team will start by checking the main road network, before moving onto major towns, then to urban and rural areas.
As problems are found, they will be reported and the most severely damaged will be repaired first.

Anyone who spots a pothole can report it to Gloucestershire Highways on 08000 514514 or online at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/pothole.

An inspector calls – road rescue phase two

Have you ever wondered what makes a pothole a pothole? Whether they’re the size of a dinner plate or a golf ball, potholes are still making their mark on county roads so Gloucestershire County Council is keen for people to better understand how we deal with them.

In January, the council launched Operation Road Rescue to tackle the severe damage caused to our roads following the harsh winter. Since then we’ve repaired around 75,000 potholes and carried out more than 250,000 sq metres of patching – enough to cover 60 football pitches. There’s still more to be done to repair last year’s damage and as winter is now fast approaching, our roads are going to come under even more pressure as temperatures drop.

The council is already prioritising its workload to ensure the most serious problems are repaired as soon as possible and this will continue to happen throughout the winter. To ensure people understand how we will be working, the council is launching the second phase of Operation Road Rescue.

This phase will focus on explaining to people how inspections are carried out, how we classify potholes and how we prioritise the repairs. After questions from the public on how we assess road damage and decide what to fix, the council has produced a new YouTube video which helps people see for themselves exactly what we do.

The new four-minute film explains to people what makes a pothole, how they’re measured and why some potholes are not repaired. Cllr Stan Waddington, cabinet member for environment, said: “I know people are still frustrated with the condition of some of our roads. “There’s also confusion about what constitutes a pothole and how we decide which ones to repair immediately and which ones we don’t. “Hopefully the YouTube film will make it clearer to people how we’re working and why we’re working this way.

“The bottom line is that we have to prioritise what we do, firstly to makes sure we target the most serious damage first and secondly to manage costs. “I’d encourage everyone to visit our website and watch the film for themselves.” In addition to the work repairing potholes, the council will be investing in more cost effective solutions to reduce the damage in future.

Surface treatments like microasphalt and surface dressing help to prevent excessive wear and tear and help seal the road from bad weather. This treatment will not be used instead of resurfacing, as roads that are severely damaged cannot be treated with surface dressings.
Safety is our number one priority so any road that is in a dangerous condition will be repaired as soon as possible.

For more information, visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/roadrescue .

Scrutiny Committee to Look at Highways Inspection

Gloucestershire County Council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee will be discussing the Highways Inspection policy this week.

The cross-party committee meets regularly to scrutinise decision making and hold the council to account for its actions on behalf of the public.

On Friday March 19th, the committee will gather to hear an update on how road repairs have progressed since the Highways Inspection Policy was suspended following the extreme winter weather.

Cllr Chas Fellows, chairman of the environment scrutiny committee said: “As a scrutiny committee we will be looking very carefully at this issue and asking questions about what has been done. People want to know how the work is progressing and what the council is doing to ensure that these repairs are carried out as quickly as possible. We know that the state of the roads is a top priority for council tax payers and this committee is here to give them a voice. We are a cross-party committee so I am sure it will be an interesting debate that will focus on the real issues and not the politics.”

The Highways Inspection Policy sets out how the council should react to reports of potholes or other defects on the roads. Under the policy, reported defects are inspected and put into a 28-day rolling programme of repairs. But it was suspended at the end of January so the crews could be diverted to fixing the emergency repairs caused during the bad weather as soon as possible.

The suspension was lifted initially until the end of April and the environment scrutiny committee will receive a report which says the policy should be reinstated as planned.
However, the report also explains that the backlog of damage will take a further four to six months to repair.

When the council launched Operation Road Rescue on January 25th a timeframe of six months to repair the backlog was originally estimated so work is progressing as planned. Under Operation Road Rescue, the council has 70 gangs currently repairing around 500 potholes every day and since the campaign was launched more than 18,400 have been filled.

The Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee will meet at 10am on Friday March 19th in the Cabinet Suite at Shire Hall. It is a public meeting so you are welcome to attend.

Issued by Gloucestershire County Council’s media team.

Lisa Bonnell
Media & PR Officer
Gloucestershire County Council
Tel: 01452 425226 / 07805 540422