East Sussex’s ‘highways heroes’ have been battling through the elements to keep the county’s roads safe and keep traffic moving.
As the county endures the wettest winter in 20 years and after the wettest February on record, reports of potholes have surged with East Sussex Highways crews fixing more than 11,000 – three times the number last winter.
With more than double the normal level of rainfall, crews have also dealt with more than 500 flooding incidents as reports surged by 170 per cent in January compared to last year.
All of the county’s 2,000 miles of highway are inspected every month, six months or 12 months depending on the type of road.
Highways chiefs have increased the number of pothole gangs from 10 to 16 but are asking people to help them keep roads in a good condition by reporting potholes they spot but to be patient as crews tackle an unprecedented level of reports.
When a highways steward has inspected a pothole, a white circle is marked around it, meaning people don’t need to report a pothole if they see these markings.
Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said: “Our highways crews are out and about every day, often in horrendous weather, doing a heroic job of dealing with flooding, fixing potholes and ensuring roads remain open.
“In periods of prolonged wet and cold weather, potholes are far more likely to form, so it’s no surprise that we’re experiencing an exceptionally high level of incidents at the moment.
“If you see a pothole, don’t assume someone else has reported it unless it’s got a white circle around it – it’s very easy to let us know about it via the website and by reporting it you’re helping us to keep our roads in a good condition.
“Every pothole report we receive will be checked out and if it meets our criteria for repair, people should be assured we will get to it and we will fix it.”
Potholes are assessed according to the depth, width and location of the hole, volume and traffic and speed limit, with the most serious fixed within two hours and others which meet the criteria for repair being dealt with within five days or 28 days.
Highways have resurfaced, patched or surface dressed over 55 miles of road this financial year, with a major programme of improvements which prevent potholes from forming in the first place starting this month and continuing through the spring and summer.
Cllr Dowling added: “Work such as resurfacing and patching is an effective and cost-effective way of protecting the road surface and preventing wear and tear, but most of this work can only be done when the weather is warmer and drier.
“We invest £23 million in maintaining our roads, repaired more than 26,000 potholes last year alone and have committed an additional £1 million in 2020-21 for work including patching.”
People can report potholes or any other issues on county roads via the East Sussex Highways website at www.eastsussexhighways.com