During the recent bad weather HCC and other organisations carried out extensive works keeping roads open despite some difficult weather conditions.
The email below is an update email from Stuart Jarvis, Director of Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council and gives a good close out on the works carried out, resources used and some of the damage we will see due to potholes etc. It was a very good update and has been posted here with Stuarts permission.
As a country we are not generally well equipped for snow – it happens so infrequently that it is not worth the cost to invest in dealing with it to the same level of ability of other countries for whom it is routine. The email below gives a good idea of the works carried out to keep our roads as open and passable as possible.
Dear MPs, Members and Partners
A final note from me on the winter weather event we have just been through in respect of Hampshire Highways Teams. I’m glad to see that the thaw has arrived; we’ve certainly been through a tough few days that have fully stretched resources. I’m pleased to say that we managed to keep main routes on Hampshire’s local network open and passable with care for most of the time during the severe weather; though diverting traffic following the closure of the A34 did cause us some additional problems on the diversion routes. The severe cold, strong winds and rapid accumulation and drifting of snow, once it started falling on Thursday afternoon caused challenges everywhere, and particularly on our higher routes, as well as causing problems for Highways England on the strategic road network especially the A31 across the Forest, and on rail services in south western Hampshire.
Our greatest challenge came from the highest points of the road network, particularly in the North and West of the county and on the A272 just outside Winchester. Here, despite continual work, the snow drifting off fields onto the road caused us particular problems at Cheesefoot Head, which, in the end needed one JCB, a gritter and two tractors with snow ploughs to shift the snow and ice to make the road passable again.
We had started to ramp on winter operations from the previous Saturday, making sure all routes (P1, P2 and community routes) were treated more than once with salt to tackle ice and prepare for snow. From 6am on Thursday, we moved to continuous round the clock gritting, deployed contracted farmers with HCC snow ploughs, mobilised our framework contractors and supplied our district colleagues with salt to support their efforts to keep shopping areas, main footways and car parks clear. We issued lots of advice to residents to be prepared and avoid all but essential travel. As predicted, the snow started to fall in earnest on Thursday afternoon, and we managed to keep the majority of the main network clear in spite of traffic build up, minor accidents and abandoned cars. As always, I was struck by the commitment of our staff, partners, contractors and volunteers, including 4×4 drivers, to keeping the roads open and help stranded road users, during difficult circumstances. This included lots of work on Saturday and Sunday to tackle outstanding problems and try to restore normal conditions. Even this morning there were some residual problems of drifted snow remaining on a few of the smaller highest routes in the County.
Travel conditions have largely returned to normal now, but there will be a long tail to the snow, with recovery across our whole road network likely to take many months. The damage inflicted by the snow and ice across the county, on already fragile roads, will be significant. We have a massive challenge on our hands. The first phase is to ensure safety on the network and tackle safety defects. Given the scale of the damage we’ll need to make extensive use of temporary repairs and will be sending out find and fix gangs and programmed repair teams to do this essential emergency work. With our revenue budget already under pressure, it is likely to be around 12 months before we can bring back the whole network to the state it was before, and we will need to review and reprioritise our 2018/19 maintenance programme in order to do this. We are, therefore, calling on the Government to make additional funding available to help authorities who have been badly hit to restore their networks as quickly as possible, for example by an early decision to increase funding available through the government’s ‘Pothole Fund’. Any help or support that MPs are able to give for this would be particularly welcome, as we look at a likely multi million pound repair bill.
Regards Stuart Jarvis Director of Economy, Transport and Environment