Cash injection for our country roads

A crumbling road at Bepton.
A crumbling road at Bepton.

‘SERIOUS consideration’ is being given to a cash injection into the county’s country roads.

A multi-million pound investment for resurfacing unclassified roads could be on the cards, as West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Pieter Montyn, weighs up a two-year proposal.

“We have spent all summer and autumn investigating long-term plans for managing the highways network, in response to the many residents who expressed concern about the deterioration of some of our roads,” said Cllr Montyn.

“By putting in place a long term plan that makes our roads more resilient, we can prevent damage, provide greater value for the taxpayer and make managing problems caused by extreme weather easier.

“We cannot give an exact figure at this stage, but our findings suggest if we invest heavily now in upgrading road surfaces, it will be cheaper in the long run to maintain them and stop them deteriorating.”

The council has said if money is invested up front on high quality road surfaces, it will save millions of pounds in maintenance costs in the next 20 years.

In the last three years West Sussex has experienced some of the worst weather conditions in living memory, with potholes littering the county’s roads.

Record levels of rainfall, along with flooding, freezing temperatures and snow, caused significant deterioration to the county’s road network.

The council said while the county’s A and B roads, and minor C roads, continued to be maintained, the network of unclassified roads has ‘slipped’.

In 2009/10 only 12 per cent of unclassified roads across West Sussex were considered in need of repair, but in 2012/13 that figure had increased to 22 per cent.

This is significant, as unclassified roads make up 55 per cent of the entire road network in the county.

“West Sussex needs reliable transport links to help connect people to jobs and businesses,” said Cllr Montyn.

“Our rural and smaller roads have to be up to the job.

“Better roads do not cost as much to maintain and significantly reduce the outbreak of potholes after spells of poor weather.”

He said he hoped to make a statement on the matter at the next full council meeting on Friday, December 13.