Kent Highways crews are continuing to find and fix potholes and resurface the county’s roads during the covid-19 lockdown.
Since most of the county became housebound, KCC has patched 89,212m2 of roads and filled 5,669 potholes.
In the month before lockdown, 47,073m2 of road was patched and 6,453 potholes were filled.
Pre-planned work has been continuing as well with resurfacing which began at the start of May to ensure roads are safe for key workers travelling to and from work.
Over the next year KCC expects to deliver a significantly expanded £40 million programme of planned road maintenance covering around two million square metres.
This will include resurfacing contractor Eurovia delivering 850,000 square metres of road renewal work costing around £30 million, compared to 450,000 square metres in 2019/20.
Around 1.1 million square metres of specialist treatments costing £10 million will also be carried out by KCC’s services provider Amey to extend the life of suitable roads.
Collectively, this higher investment will reduce future pothole formulation.
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “KCC is responsible for the inspection and maintenance of 5,400 miles of road, one of the largest road networks in the country.
“Roads in Kent also carry significantly higher volumes of freight than many in the rest of England. Inevitably the number of vehicles using our roads, with some seven billion miles of journeys a year, takes its toll.
“Right now, our roads are crucial to ensuring medicine and equipment can get to where it is needed most, together with key workers that our county relies upon and I’m extremely proud of the work being done by our highways’ teams.
“We have carefully considered government and industry advice about COVID-19 and are content that highway maintenance can continue.
“We will continue to take note and adjust to any changes in this advice, so there is a possibility that some works may be postponed at very short notice.
“We take the wellbeing of the public and our workforce extremely seriously, and please be assured we have put in place all mitigating measures necessary to abide by the guidance currently in place.
“We ask that whilst works are ongoing that the public does not approach the workforce and if you have any enquiries regarding these are raised through the Kent County Council contact centre.
“We have an extremely good record of highway maintenance and investment and I’m very glad that we have been able to continue work during what is a very difficult time for us all.”
Kent Highways’ workers have been deemed key workers by the government, providing a safety-critical role to keeping Kent’s roads safe.
Mr Payne added: “With fewer cars on the roads, certain areas of the county that would usually be very difficult to work on have been made considerably easier.
“For instance, we recently completed some pothole blitz work in Broadstairs and, whilst there are few positives to this horrendous pandemic, we were able to carry out essential maintenance to some of the most difficult sites that might normally need to be carried out at night or cause disruption to businesses and residents.”
Over the course of 2019 Kent Highways received 15,559 enquiries about potholes and filled 71,600 individual holes and patched a total of 1,100,771 square metres.
It also provided over 1.5 million square metres of planned road maintenance.
Director of Highways Transportation & Waste at KCC Simon Jones said: “I am extremely pleased and proud at the way we have continued to provide essential services at this time.
“This is down to the professionalism, commitment and dogged determination of all our highways staff and our supply chain partners.”
Whilst, keen to recognise the good work and progress achieved by the Pothole Blitz contractors, Amey, KCC’s highways services provider, Eurovia, KCC’s main resurfacing contractor, and Bouygues, KCC’s street lighting contractor, Mr Jones was also thankful for the contribution of many other organisations who have helped to maintain highway technology, cut grass and kept Kent’s soft landscape and highways trees safe.
He added: “All of our teams in Kent have been working hard to make sure that while the roads are quieter, these essential works are undertaken safely, quickly and without disruption.
“We have tried to make best use of this challenging time and whilst our focus has been to keep residents and road workers safe we have worked hard to ensure that when traffic returns to Kent’s roads it is safe, well maintained and available to everyone.”
Kent County Council encourages residents that spot potholes to report them online via Kent.gov.uk – around 70% of pothole reports to Kent Highways are made using this online fault reporting tool.
KCC prioritise potholes according to how unsafe they’re making the road and so whilst not all potholes reported are a priority, KCC does aim to fix all that are identified.
Dangerous faults that pose an immediate risk of causing an accident are fixed within two hours of being found or reported while hazardous faults which could deteriorate quickly to become dangerous are fixed within seven days.
For emergency potholes, sometimes an instant repair by quickly filling the hole to make the road safe is carried out, but a full permanent repair is then scheduled in to prevent that pothole from forming again in the future.