THIS week’s column is a challenge to readers, and it’s a tough one – how do the Highways Department of Lancashire County Council decide on their road maintenance priorities?
We live on a country road which runs about a mile to the next village. It’s wide enough for cars to pass each other, but it is also used by numerous tractors, coaches, concrete mixers and goods lorries. If they need to pass each other they have to go on to the verge.
Thus the edge of the tarmac is cracked and damaged. We have plenty of frost and even more rain, and the component gravel is washed away.
Potholes form and are quickly enlarged. Here is a selection:
Once in a while the council send a team to replace a section of the edge of the road, and this is where the puzzle begins. They seem to choose a random strip a few yards long and spend a day or two stripping off the remaining surface then laying a new one. Sometimes this involves temporary traffic lights and other times they have stop-go men who are without exception charming to pedestrians. (My dream job, incidentally.) But why do they stop before replacing all the damaged edge? This strip was laid a few weeks ago.
Here is another example. The replacement strip, which was laid last year, is in the distance.
This is probably the best one.
There may be some logic in it, but I cannot see it.
What makes this more worrying is that United Utilities are planning a massive project near here to renew an aqueduct which runs from Haweswater in the Lake District to Manchester. Our road will be used by up to 13 heavy goods vehicles an hour five days a week (with the concession of fewer at weekends) for at least six years, and we are told more likely ten years. There are two proposed routes, one of which will go past our front door (which opens directly on to the pavement at a point where the road is particularly narrow), the other of which will necessitate building a Bailey bridge over the Ribble and a temporary road to connect with our country road half way along. Naturally we are terribly anxious that the decision will go the wrong way for us. But whichever route is chosen, this flimsy bit of road is going to be part of it. I can only hope that the Highways Department are better prepared for this than their usual modus operandi seems to suggest.
Incidentally, the aqueduct has been in use for 67 years, since 1955. When you think that a lot of Victorian engineering is still going strong, it doesn’t seem to have lasted all that well.
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