THE LARGEST ever repair programme to a network of roads stretching thousands of miles across vast swathes of Yorkshire is set to be completed this week to help boost the transport infrastructure across countryside communities.
The multi-million-pound investment by North Yorkshire County Council is aimed at ensuring the 5,000-mile roads network it oversees is adequately maintained for both businesses and residents.
The project is also being conducted to ensure that the county’s hugely valuable tourism industry is preserved, with visitors travelling from across the world to key destinations such as the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks as well as coastal towns including Scarborough and Whitby.
The council stressed it is bucking a national trend with many highways authorities making major cuts to their budgets amid falling amounts of funding from Westminster due to the Government’s ongoing austerity measures.
By the end of August, the council will have surface-dressed about 400 miles of road, more than any other summer maintenance project, in a process which combines bitumen with chippings. It is hoped the move will bring down the cost of reactive patching and pothole repairs.
The executive member for highways, Coun Don Mackenzie, said: “Our additional funding for roads is about vital support for economic growth, supporting business and keeping communities and the economy on the move. Surface-dressing also helps to keep roads safe, improving skid resistance.
“In addition, we aim to complete this programme every year before autumn when the weather deteriorates. This minimises costs and improves the life of the material.”
The council is now spending an average of £65m a year on road maintenance. Extra money has been secured from a £44m fund being spent over the seven years up until 2021, with a particular focus on rural areas.
Rural roads in North Yorkshire, which is England’s largest county, account for almost 75 per cent of the county’s roads network, compared to 29 per cent in a typical local authority. The 5,000 miles of roads which criss-cross North Yorkshire equate to the distance from England to Pakistan.
A total of £24m was secured from a joint bid with East Riding of Yorkshire Council to the Local Growth Fund, linking the maintenance of the rural roads network with economic growth.
It was the first bid nationally to the Local Growth Fund for capital funding to be spent on road maintenance.
This year the council has spent an estimated £12.7m on surface dressing, about £650,000 more than last year.
However, concerns have been raised about the scale of the challenge. A report published by Labour five years ago surveyed 111 local authorities in England, representing about three quarters of councils responsible for road maintenance.
The study highlighted North Yorkshire County Council as one of the five worst authorities, with estimated backlogs topping £400m to achieve a gold-plated standard of roads.
Article Source: www.yorkshirepost.co.uk