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State of roads will worsen

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:39 06 July 2010

A pothole in Tombland. Photo: EDP Library.

A pothole in Tombland. Photo: EDP Library.

The county's pothole-stricken roads are expected to deteriorate further as a report reveals there is now a backlog of more than £100m worth of repairs to be done.

By ROB GARRATT

The county's pothole-stricken roads are expected to deteriorate further as a report reveals there is now a backlog of more than £100m worth of repairs to be done.

Norfolk County Council needs to spend £125.7m repairing its roads, but has just £31.6m in the kitty for the work, the report reveals

This backlog represents a dramatic leap from the £70.4m identified in a similar report last September and has led to fears the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

The council says the sudden increase is because of the effects of a cold snap this winter. In February they were forced to fork out emergency cash and pull road workers off other projects to deal with a swelling pothole problem that saw around 40 holes opening up a day.

Potholes appear where water penetrates the road surface and expands with freezing, breaking the road surface up.

The backlog has also been made worse because government funding for structural maintenance has stayed static for the last five years, while inflation has gone up 32pc in that time, the report to go before tomorrow's Planning and Transportation, Environment and Waste scrutiny panel argues.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “The amount of money we've been spending on roads over the last five years is not enough.

“The effect it has is that if you don't resurface when you need to it means the surface is not watertight so water gets in and you get potholes.”

The Highway Asset Performance report also estimates that even after carrying out some of the work this year, the backlog is expected to swell to £111.4m again by next year,

Scheduled road dressing should occur around once every five to ten years and is necessary to stop potholes appearing, which pose a risk to cyclists and motor bikers.

The bulk of the £32m funding comes from central government, with £7m chipped in by the county council itself.

At the meeting tomorrow members will be tasked with prioritising how the limited funds should be best spent.

The report recommends maintaining the current condition of A-roads and giving priority to the most heavily trafficked B and C roads.

It says the council should put £5.5m towards the required £19.5m to maintain A-roads, £1.5m towards the £4.3m needed for B-roads and £4.3m on the £20.6m required for C roads.

A further £4.7m is needed for footway improvements, £37.3m is needed to improve the county's drains, £4.2m is needed for bridges and £3.9m is needed to pay for traffic signals.

Councillors are expected to call for additional funds to be diverted to address the problems before they worsen.

Mr Gunson added: “The council needs to consider what it's going to do about it because the condition of the actual road surfaces is not very good.

“It's very difficult because in the present climate you don't want to increase council tax, so the council is between a rock and a hard place.”

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