HEAVY WINTER rain has added £100M to the £5bn road repair backlog, making it impossible for the Government to meet 10 year transport plan targets of wiping out the road maintenance backlog by 2004, county surveyors warned this week.
Most rural counties have warned that funds for structural maintenance will be diverted to emergency patching of roads in danger of breaking up.
'The devastating autumn and winter floods have made a real mess of the highways, ' said County Surveyors president Edward Chorlton. 'The condition is now as bad as at any time over the last 30 years. Reaching the target will be more difficult.'
Hampshire county surveyor John Ekins added: 'We have six patching gangs working instead of the usual one at the moment.'
Of local authorities surveyed by NCE this week, Kent County Council has an estimated £5M worth of damage caused by winter flooding. Devon County Council faces an immediate flood repair bill of £2M for roads and Hampshire £1M. Councils are also claiming the long term damage will cost much more.
'There is a lot of surface deterioration on minor and A class roads that have been under water for a long time, said Ekins.
Road floods speed up wear and tear and aggravate pot holes, causing accidents and increasing insurance claims against local authorities, ' he added.
Engineers are predicting even worse flooding to come in April because of high water tables caused by poor drainage to the roads.
'Road drainage systems are not designed for the bursts of rain we are getting at the moment, ' said Chorlton.
Ekins added: 'Big investment is needed in road drainage but water companies or the Environment Agency have no duty to do it.' It falls on local authorities who are not getting the extra funds, added Chorlton.