Highways chiefs warn freezing weather could damage Northamptonshire roads

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Northamptonshire County Council is warning road users that significant damage could be caused to the roads if severe winter weather arrives.

The extremely wet weather of recent weeks has resulted in a very high water table, saturating highways.

Such a waterlogged sub-structure below the road surface makes the highways very vulnerable to the effects of freezing and thawing, which can break up the surface.

Historically at this time of year the council would have carried out quick-fix temporary repairs but in recent years this has been replaced by carrying out proactive maintenance works and longer-lasting semi-permanent repairs.

The council says it aims to continue with this new approach.

However, to carry out a ‘proper’ fix it may be necessary to extend the current repair timescale, which currently stands at up to five days.

Cllr Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “We’re all aware of just how wet and windy it has been so far this winter and although we haven’t had flooding on the scale of some parts of the UK so far, the ground here is saturated.

“We’ve made huge progress in recent years in the way we carry out highways maintenance and, despite some very severe weather, this has been very successful with our way of working being adopted nationally.

“What we’re looking at now is a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions where the freezing and thawing of a waterlogged highway could wreak havoc to our highways network.

“People have told us they think the temporary quick-fix repairs are a waste of money and so we’ve changed the way we work to carry out longer-lasting repairs.

“However, quality work takes longer to do so it may be necessary to expand the timescales if the damage is very severe.”

In the event of wide-scale damage to the roads it may be necessary to carry out some temporary repairs as a last resort but the county council will try to ensure these are kept to a minimum.

Highways defects can be reported to the Street Doctor service.