With groundwater levels in many parts of Hampshire still comparatively high from last winter’s intense rainfall, the focus of Hampshire’s highways teams throughout the summer and autumn has been to ensure the roads are in good shape to deal with winter weather.
Earlier this year, Hampshire was awarded one of the highest amounts in the South East for flood and pothole repairs, a total of £17.5 million, and set to work immediately repairing the roads. This is on top of the £54m spent annually by the Council on highways maintenance.
In the nine months since work began to repair the damage caused by the most significant rainfall to hit Hampshire for 250 years, the County Council has ensured that:
- Over £29m of work has been completed
- Additional work has been undertaken in known problem areas so that drains have been checked and cleared, and are ready to function at full capacity
- 80,000 gullies have been cleansed
- Following inspections by specialist divers, £2.8m worth of repairs have been made to bridges
- Extra gangs and machinery, such as high speed patching machines, were deployed to fix the flood damaged roads
- Around 74km of road have been resurfaced
- 137 maintenance and improvement schemes have been completed at known flooding sites
- 50,000 potholes have been repaired so far
- Investment has been made into innovative solutions to extend the life of the road network and achieve best value for money
- 45 local community flood plans have been established by partnership working with parish councils
Hampshire County Council Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “We’ve drawn on our experiences from last winter, particularly working with partners and how important it is for communities to pull together. Communities who were prepared were certainly better able to cope and recover quicker than those without flood action plans in place.”
“With over 5,000 miles of road to look after in Hampshire, it’s important we continue to take an innovative approach to make the most of the resources we have, looking not only at how we manage the network but also how to adapt the environment to the threat of flooding.”
“A great deal of work has been done this year to repair roads damaged by flooding, and I’m pleased to see that Hampshire has come out top of all county councils for residents’ satisfaction with highways maintenance in an independent national survey.”
The County Council has, however, expressed caution over the recent announcement that a limited number of projects in Hampshire will receive support from the Government for funding schemes to alleviate and mitigate the impact of flooding.
Many parts of Hampshire suffered groundwater flooding last winter, with highways crews working round the clock trying to keep roads passable. The County Council is pressing for a different approach to the way funding is allocated because the current method means that areas affected by groundwater flooding do not score highly enough in the Government’s criteria, despite the significant economic disruption and community isolation that follows flooding of Hampshire’s major transport routes.
In times of severe weather, the County Council has emergency crews on standby 24 hours a day to ensure the roads are clear and passable. Thousands of sandbags and tonnes of sand are in the County Council’s highways depots across the county which can be filled by automated filling machines and deployed immediately when required to protect the highways. Information on obtaining sandbags for individual property protection is available online.