Councillors have agreed an additional £3 million spend on roads maintenance across Aberdeenshire.
This follows an earlier £2.5 million cash injection agreed during the Budget discussions in March of this year to address delays in repairs as a direct result of the Covid pandemic.
During discussion of the General Services Capital Performance at a recent Full Council meeting, Depute Leader and chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Peter Argyle, said Covid and Scottish Government guidance during 2020 meant very little work was undertaken on the 3,500-mile road network except for safety-critical issues which were addressed.
Commending the work of the Roads Service during these very challenging circumstances, Cllr Argyle said: “It has been a particularly difficult time for roads and the service has worked exceptionally hard throughout the pandemic. There has been a huge amount of catch-up as a result of the pandemic on top of an unusually hard winter and actually indicates that going through a six-month delay on road repairs is not the course of action any of us would wish to see.
“In terms of investment, an additional £2.5 million was agreed in the Budget in March of this year together with a further £3 million from the Infrastructure Fund 2 now unanimously agreed by Full Council. Of course, like many other council services, we’ve experienced real challenges with the supply chain, recruitment – typically for lorry drivers – and there is very significant inflation in the construction sector and huge demand on public sector contracts as well – all of which makes life as difficult for us as a council as it is for the private sector.
“Some tenders have come back way over expectation, but equally many others have come back perfectly acceptable and have been taken ahead.
“We now have an agreed programme of works in place which will be carefully assessed and planned to make the most effective use of this additional investment. Using results from the national Road Maintenance Condition Survey repairs will be designed to best suit the overall condition of the road. In some cases this will be a localised repair to the defect, such as a pothole, while in other instances where the overall road is in a poor condition the repair may take the form of a more widespread surface dressing, or indeed resurfacing operation. Using this tailored approach ensures that the repairs undertaken achieve the best balance between cost and benefit.”
Head of Roads, Philip McKay, echoed his thanks to his dedicated workforce which is battling through a backlog of maintenance and repairs to ensure the road network is safe for motorists.
He said: “Our widescale annual surface dressing programme has now been completed and preparatory works for next season’s surface dressing programme are now well underway. We are also continuing our planned programme of resurfacing works and several contracts have recently been awarded to external contractors. Included within this is a programme of works to strengthen roads widely used by the forestry industry for timber transport which is jointly funded by the council and the Scottish Government’s Strategic Timber Transport Fund.
“Reactive patching of highly-defected routes is also well underway following our priority matrix and traffic-light system. Throughout October and November we will also be undertaking a programme of road retexturing works following the recent award of contract to a specialist contractor. These works will greatly improve texture and skid resistance at some key locations on the network. During the winter months, we will also be undertaking a programme of drainage repairs and improvement works across the network.
“We know this is having a very positive impact and motorists will have seen a massive increase in our roads operations across Aberdeenshire in recent months. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience during our works and road users are asked to be patient and follow site signing including temporary speed limits.
“Thanks to the additional financial resources agreed at Full Council last week, we are now in position to tender for a further £3 million worth of contracts which will help us to make significant inroads into the backlog of repairs.”