Cabinet agrees to invest over £30m in county's highways
Lancashire County Council's cabinet has agreed to invest over £30m in maintaining roads, pavements, bridges, streetlights and other vital infrastructure over the next year, while using greener methods to save hundreds of tonnes of CO2.
Improving the county's residential roads is one of the top priorities for the coming months, with £6.8m due to be spent on 38 schemes, many covering a number of roads within neighbourhoods, to replace sections of worn-out surface.
The highways capital budget also includes over £3m for maintenance to the busiest A, B and C roads, and more than £2m for rural roads, with a further £500k earmarked for 'moss roads' which require special treatment due to the soft ground they're built upon.
County Councillors also recently agreed to top up the funding received for highways from government with a further £1m to help fix multiple potholes on roads which otherwise would have to wait for repair.
A report to the county council's cabinet which met today (Thursday 2 March) also outlines details of a unique £1.8m programme which will see asphalt from the Salmesbury Enterprise Zone which is currently under development being recycled to improve a number of rural and smaller C-class roads. This follows around 4,000 tonnes of material from disused runways at the former BAE site being used to resurface rural roads last year.
The highways budget also includes £1m set aside to replace pavement surfaces, £4.4m for upkeep to bridges and structures, and £1m for maintenance to drainage systems which are vital to help protect our roads from Lancashire's wet weather and prevent flooding.
A further £2.3m is earmarked for strength-testing and replacement of streetlighting columns, and £650k to renew aging traffic signal equipment.
County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "I know how important it is to residents and businesses to keep our transport infrastructure in good condition, as we all rely on it for everyday travel and to support our economy.
"Maintaining Lancashire's roads will always be a challenge due to our often cold and wet climate. There's always a lot to do at this time of year following the winter months, and I'm looking forward to getting our maintenance programme underway as the weather improves.
"The consistent investment we've made in improving our most important A, B and C roads over recent years means we're now able to spend less to keep them in good condition, and invest more in the smaller urban roads. We can't improve them all at once, but a big focus of our work over the next year will be bringing into better condition those which we've been able to prioritise in this round of investment.
"Protecting our environment is one of our council's top priorities, and we'll be using recycled and lower carbon materials and techniques wherever we can to minimise the impact of this necessary maintenance, which we predict to be 28% less compared with using traditional materials and methods."
The report to cabinet also outlines the challenges which the council faces in looking after Lancashire's transport infrastructure at a time when the cost of materials has substantially increased due to inflation.
However, the council's risk-based approach to managing highways based on survey data is helping to ensure that the funding it receives is invested as efficiently as possible, and also ensures that it receives the maximum entitlement from the Department for Transport.
County Councillor Swarbrick added: "A recent review of our Transport Asset Management Plan which underpins our approach to maintenance found that 'prevention is better than cure', rather than always focusing on replacing the worst first, is the right long-term strategy.
"The evidence for this is that fewer faults are now being found in the A, B and C roads which have been the focus of this strategy over recent years.
"It also means we receive more incentive funding from the Department for Transport as we can show our approach provides the best value for money.
"However, we also face some really big challenges as parts of our transport infrastructure are aging and need to be carefully managed until we can secure the substantial funding needed to replace them.
"We are working hard to identify opportunities to fund this work, and will use the robust survey data we have collected to help make Lancashire's case for our share of any extra funding which becomes available for infrastructure improvements."
Notes to editors
Picture shows County Councillor Swarbrick, cabinet member for highways and transport