Northamptonshire County Council is warning road users that “significant damage” could be caused to roads if severe winter weather arrives.
The extremely wet weather of recent weeks has resulted in a very high water table, which makes the highways very vulnerable to the effects of freezing and thawing, and can cause potholes.
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at this time of year, the council would have carried out quick-fix temporary repairs, but in recent years this has been replaced by carrying out maintenance works and longer-lasting semi-permanent repairs, under the new highways maintenance initiative.
The council says to carry out a ‘proper’ fix it may be necessary to extend the current repair timescale, which currently stands at up to five days.
Councillor Michael Clarke (Con, Hackleton and Grange Park), cabinet member for highways, 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.
“The public has told us that 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 ensure that these are kept to a minimum.
Highways defects can be reported to the Street Doctor service online at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk