09 January 2023
IMPACT OF RECENT WEATHER ON BUCKINGHAMSHIRE’S ROADS
Statement from Councillor Steven Broadbent, Cabinet Member for Transport
“The prolonged period of very cold conditions experienced before Christmas was the coldest in the region since 2010. Continuous freezing conditions like these can cause serious problems with road surfaces, both in the surface layers, where freeze-thaw action causes potholes and cracks to widen but affects the integrity of the underlying structure of the road if the frost penetrates deep enough. This can cause sudden, fairly catastrophic failure in roads.
This has then been followed by an extremely wet period, which also causes more rapid deterioration. This is exacerbated where road surfaces are already damaged, and especially through extensive use by HGVs, such as we are seeing in many parts of Buckinghamshire, most notably associated with construction works for HS2 and East West Rail. As such, we are experiencing increased numbers of potholes and other related defects on the network and can expect this upward trend to continue over the next few weeks at least.
Where a defect is unsafe, repairs will be made as quickly as possible. Ideally this will be undertaken as a long-lasting repair, but at times, such as during very wet or cold weather, or when it is an emergency “out of hours” repair, this may be possible and a temporary “make-safe” repair will be undertaken. In extreme cases the issue may require the temporary closure of the road. None of these temporary options are ideal, as this type of repair may not last very long in poor weather, particularly where the road is subject to large numbers of HGV movements. The best time to fix roads defects properly is when the weather is warm and dry – which, of course, is the opposite of when the majority of the problems occur! Transport for Buckinghamshire is working hard to assess and rectify defects as soon as possible.
The council continues to invest heavily in our highway network and the ongoing programme of local schemes and strategic road repairs/improvements continues.
Prudent financial planning has meant that severe weather reserves exist to help fund the required priority repairs to deal with the issues we are currently seeing. Where the damage can be attributed either in whole, or in part, to schemes such as HS2 or East West Rail, the council will negotiate appropriate third-party payments to ensure Buckinghamshire residents’ are not footing the bill.
Regular inspections and repairs to our highways continue in line with our highways inspection policy, so that the travelling public can travel safely. With over 2,100 miles of carriageway across our county, the Transport for Buckinghamshire team welcome reports of potholes and other issues on our highways from residents. We urge residents not to repair potholes themselves – the best way to report a problem on the highway, so the council can repair the roads, is via Fix My Street:
This allows a problem to be reported by postcode or a click on a map and is directed to the most appropriate team to deal with in an expedited fashion. Fix My Street also allows you to see if the problem has already been reported to save duplication and you will receive automatic updates on progress of the follow up inspection or repair.”