Highland Council’s roads recovery programme has taken a step forward as councillors welcomed positive progress with multimillion-pound investment in infra-red technology.
This follows the council agreeing a £20 million investment in the region’s road network.
Now, members of its economy and infrastructure committee agreed a further £9 million of capital from a “health and prosperity strategy”.
During a positive debate at council, members commented on progress in reversing years of under-investment.
Current pothole repair methods rely on cold tar – which tends to break up very quickly – or on the delivery of hot materials to site, which relies on the availability of expensive specialist kit.
With IRR, the temperature can be more easily controlled for a better repair and the kit can fit on a transit van.
“Both the roads team leaders in Tain and Easter Ross are highlighting the success of infrared repairs in delivering low cost and durable pothole repairs,” said Cllr Louden.
“Repairs that were done over six years ago are still in good condition now. This would make a welcome change to cold-tar repairs which are back out as soon as they are filled in.”
Infrared technology could form one element of the council’s £2.5 million investment in plant and machinery across the next two financial years. This money has been allocated from the council’s health and prosperity fund, which seeks to kickstart economic recovery.
The council has already spent £1 million on five new JCB Pothole Pro plant vehicles and £500,000 on five new tractor and flail sets.
Cllr Louden wants his area’s share of the remaining cash to go on IRR.
“We hope to see our share of the remaining £1 million capital spend going on this technology to make sure the public gets the value for money and long-lasting repairs they have a right to expect,” he said.
“Our roads team will deliver – but we have to give them the tools to do the job. Infrared is what they need. Let’s get this to them and fix our roads.”
The council is also investing £6.5 million in infrastructure improvements including passing places and the widening of roads at key pinch points. Each area of Highland will be given a share of the fund based on its road length and condition.