Highway flood-repair programme well under way in Northumberland

Repairs to Pauperhaugh Bridge, near Rothbury, was a priority scheme that has been completed ahead of schedule.
Repairs to Pauperhaugh Bridge, near Rothbury, was a priority scheme that has been completed ahead of schedule.

Northumberland County Council have detailed the £15million repair programme that they are currently undertaking to repair the damage inflicted on the roads network by record-breaking wet weather in the winter.

The programme is being funded by the Government’s Department for Transport (DfT), which allocated £14.6million towards repair costs in the region after the county council submitted a bid for £24.3million.

This funding is in addition to the £1.1million already assigned to the council towards pothole repair costs over the current financial year.

Northumberland suffered significant damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure following the violent weather which hit the region in December and January – leaving a repair bill in excess of £24million.

Sub-zero temperatures that followed in February exacerbated the situation on roads right across the county, resulting in potholes when the saturated road surfaces began to freeze, weaken and break up. This affected roads in all areas ranging from Berwick to Blyth and Bedlington to Bellingham and has led to severe deterioration of road condition which will need significant repairs to overcome.

Temporary measures were put in place to minimise disruption from road closures and to keep the county’s roads open where possible.

The large number of affected sites has now been assessed in great detail, and a list of scheduled projects produced, with schemes prioritised based on the current issue and their implications on the network together with the impacts of delaying repairs.

Priority schemes range from major projects, such as the repair of Ovingham Bridge, to a number of smaller but significant projects that provide essential network links, often between remote communities.

In addition to the larger projects planned, a programme of minor works has also been produced, with £4million scheduled to be spent on more than 57 works across the county to roads, bridges, fords and drainage systems, and £300,000 repairing the numerous footpaths, bridleways and footbridges impacted by the high winds and heavy rain which are causing walkers and other users inconvenience and potentially affecting tourism.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “Last winter’s flooding has had a devastating effect on Northumberland’s road network, causing disruption to residents and businesses and while it is disappointing that we were unsuccessful in obtaining our total bid, I would like to thank the Department for Transport for a significant funding contribution which has enabled us to implement this intensive programme of repair work.

“Keeping Northumberland moving is a key priority for the council. Our roads are essential for the county’s economic growth, infrastructure and quality of life and we understand that this issue is something that drivers, residents and businesses are concerned about.

“With more than 3,000 miles of road to maintain and repair, along with the added pressures of funding cuts, the scale of the damage caused by the winter storms has meant that we have had to prioritise certain roads and projects. These vary in scale and severity, with many less visible schemes requiring complex design, structural reconstruction and land agreements.”

The full list of priority schemes and details on each will be available on the county council website, along with an interactive map, from tomorrow – http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/flood-repairs. It will be updated regularly as work progresses.