Anger at state of the roads

HERTFORDSHIRE Highways says it does care about the condition of the roads across Stevenage despite Comet readers claiming otherwise. During the past three weeks, letters have been flooding in to The Comet from residents who believe the roads across town a

HERTFORDSHIRE Highways says it does care about the condition of the roads across Stevenage despite Comet readers claiming otherwise.

During the past three weeks, letters have been flooding in to The Comet from residents who believe the roads across town are left to deteriorate.

But on Friday, David Bean, acting district manager for Herts Highways, and Chris Allen-Smith, Herts Highways principal strategy development manager, took Comet reporter Jo Jarvis on a tour of the town to show her some of the roads it has already repaired and those that will be addressed in the future.

Mr Bean said: "People think we don't care but we do. We do know the conditions of the roads and we do take steps to keep them safe. This includes carrying out a routine safety inspection every six months which reveals problems to us."

Mr Allen-Smith added: "As things crop up we do endeavour to deal with them. But we have only got so much money to spend and we have to prioritise.

"Compared with other areas nationally, we have more of a challenge in Herts because the roads are busier.

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"But if people see roads in a poor condition, the chances are we know about it but it's about making tough choices and keeping some roads safe while we fix and maintain others.

"When you prioritise roads there are two ways in which they fail.

"A road carrying heavy traffic puts a strain on the road and as a result the foundations can fail which means we would have to do a full structural repair. This would involve building the road from the bottom up but this is fairly rare because it can be time consuming and disruptive. So we try to keep them to a minimum.

"Most local roads however are made of asphalt and stones glued together and they tend to fail because the surface becomes brittle. If you leave them for too long they crack and potholes form so we ideally like to nip in and catch it quick and do a surface treatment like microsurfacing that will buy us more time.

"While we would like to get out and spend money on preventative maintenance we know we have got roads in a poor condition that don't feel nice or look nice.

"But every pothole costs money so there's a balance to be struck. So we try to do preventative maintenance to stop the roads that aren't already too bad from deteriorating as well as repairing some roads that are in a poor condition.

"If we spent all the money on poor roads the rest of the network would deteriorate and if we ignored the roads in a reasonable condition then all of a sudden they would get into a bad condition."

Among the roads Jo was Broad Oak Way which has been microsurfaced to help extend its life and Mobbsbury Way which was resurfaced in 2007.

However, Canterbury Way, which a number of readers have complained about, is not going to receive any attention for the time being.

Mr Allen-Smith said: "It has reached the end of its natural life but at the moment it doesn't feature on our programme because there's a limit of what we can do."

However, when funding does become available, Herts Highways is keen to carry out localised repairs followed by a surface treatment on Canterbury Way and Grace Way.

Herts Highways has an extra £10m to invest in the county's network of roads and footpaths this year as part of the county council's budget.

Cost of repairs to roads:

A rebuilt road - £60-80 per sq metre

Resurfacing - £20-30 per sq metre

Microsurfacing - £6-10 per sq metre

Surface dressing - £4-5 per sq metre

Roads Herts Highways have repaired in the last financial year (April 07-March 08):

Lytton Way A602 - Sept 07

Broadhall Way/Gunnels Wood Road (Glaxo roundabout) - April 07

Monkswood Way A602 - Sept 07

Symonds Green Lane carriageway - May 07

Monkswood Way (Roaring Meg) April 07

Almonds Lane - Aug 07

Angle Ways - Oct 07

Broad Oak Way - Oct 07

Burwell Road - April 07

Collenswood Road - April 07

Dovedale - April 07

Edison Road - April 07

Eliot Road - October 07

Fallowfield - April 07

Green Acres - April 07

Lismore - April 07

Long Leaves - Oct 07

Oakwood Close - Oct 07

Wychdell - Oct 07

Hertford Road - Dec 07

Mobbsbury Way - Aug 07

Rectory Lane - Nov 07

Bedwell Crescent - Jan 08

Repairs to pavements:

Chertsey Rise - Dec 07

Beech Drive - Dec 07

Archer Road - Jan 08

Barleycroft - Jan 08

Lonsdale Road - Nov 07

Roads to be repaired in the next financial year (April 08-March 09):

Gunnels Wood Road and Six Hills Way

Cromwell Road

Crossgates

Marymead Drive

Rudd Close

Tillers Link

Woolners Way

Walkern Road

Hertford Road/Watton Road roundabout

Stevenage Road/Fishers Green

Repairs to pavements:

Byron Crescent

Canterbury Way

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