News and Views‎ > ‎

Surrey’s highways crisis – the facts

posted 8 Jan 2011, 04:25 by Peter Webb   [ updated 8 Jan 2011, 04:27 ]

The romance of ‘the open road' now has a more damaging meaning - for 'open' read porous. 1,132 miles of Surrey County Council's 2,968-mile network are officially rated as needing surface dressing or resurfacing. In other words 38% of our council-maintained roads are liable to water penetration with consequent frost heave and potholing. Funds for 2010/11 allow only 53 miles to be sealed by surface dressing at c.£24,300 per mile. Just 6.5 miles will also become watertight after resurfacing at c.£175,000 per mile. At this annual repair rate the situation is effectively out of control. Meantime surface break-up mileage mounts with every winter.

We expect that funding cutbacks next April will further reduce the road maintenance budget. Without a £200m injection from central funds, for which Council Leader Dr Andrew Povey has pleaded to make good all Surrey’s highways, the outlook for this vital infrastructure is pretty grim.

Police cars vs potholes

Surrey's police vehicles were damaged in 497 accidents on the road over the past year. Potholes caused 16% of them, i.e. every sixth collision.  Operational efficiency and police transport budgets suffered the consequences. The news should hardly surprise us. The implications in cost and misery for the huge volume of other vehicles on the county's deteriorating highways can best be gauged by the £464,044 paid by Surrey County Council in compensation for road-related damage between December 2009 and last June alone. Current figures are awaited. Conditions for payouts are stringent. The true cost to motorists can easily be three times that sum.