Durham County Council’s unclassified road network, public rights of way, urban and rural footway links as well as paving and street furniture in Durham City will all be invested in under new proposals.
The council has agreed to fund improvements in four priority areas, as identified by the Cabinet member responsible for highways.
Cllr John Shuttleworth, Cabinet member for highways, rural communities and community safety, said: “We are delighted to announce this significant investment in the county’s highways. Our roads and footpaths are vital in keeping people and communities connected and ensuring our towns and villages are thriving.
“As well as keeping the county moving, this latest investment promotes more sustainable and active travel. There are so many fantastic locations across County Durham and we hope this investment encourages people to explore the county by foot or bike in addition to their cars. This will support our residents in leading a healthier lifestyle and promote positive physical and mental wellbeing.”
The largest investment of £13.86 million will see resurfacing works on the unclassified road network.
It is hoped this will raise Durham’s network condition rating to above the national average for its road quality and reduce the number of roads needing treatment.
Additional reporting measures would also be introduced that would see half of the county’s roads assessed on a yearly basis. Artificial intelligence will support this, with video technology and enhanced data collection to be used to survey the whole unclassified network in the first 12 months of the project.
Meanwhile, £1.6 million will be invested into the county’s public rights of way network, with a further £250,000 of capital investment identified during year two of the programme.
The additional funding will see signs upgraded, stiles, gates and footbridges maintained and repaired, as well as landscape and surface repairs and the clearance of vegetation.
Another £1 million will be spent on footways that are classified as being structurally unsound, particularly those on rural links that connect communities, though some urban paths will also be replaced where required.
Finally, £1.4 million has been allocated for the repair and maintenance of footpaths and road surfaces in Durham City. A stretch of footpath has already been refurbished from Claypath to the junction at Providence Row.
This month, a specialist cleaning team will begin work in Durham Market Place before moving on to Magdalene steps and Old Elvet Bridge. This cleaning regime will be undertaken regularly to ensure the city’s public spaces remain clean and attractive for all those who live, work in and visit Durham.
Cllr Shuttleworth added: “These projects are going to make a huge difference to everyone who uses our network. Whether they are driving or travelling on foot or by bike, we are committed to ensuring the county’s roads and footpaths are improved, and we look forward to getting started on each of the four areas.”