Moray Council to spend more on roads and bridges

Moray Council has agreed to increase its spending on its road network after it has been announced that a budget of £8.5 million for the region’s roads network has been agreed for 2021/22 .

This is a £3million increase from the previous year’s budget, said the council. Full carriageway resurfacing will provide longer-term benefits with an increased investment within the column replacement programme to allow acceleration of the work, it said.

Largely due to interruptions to planned work in 2020/21 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme of resurfacing, drainage and street lighting works will be rolled over into this year.

Winter maintenance expenditure for last year was £2.25m with a particularly busy period in December, January and February with an almost daily gritting service throughout, reports Scottish Construction Now.

Cllr Graham Leadbitter, chair of the economic growth, housing and environmental sustainability committee, which approved the budget, said: “The committee consensus is that spending on our roads network will need to be revisited but for now our hard working teams will continue to catch up with the programme of resurfacing and maintain our roads to the best of their ability.

“In the council’s recent budget, councillors agreed to carry forward a significant underspend that resulted from Covid restrictions and our Roads Maintenance Service will therefore be carrying out significantly more work than normal this year.

“Looking beyond that we will need to take stock of how that catch up work progresses through the year and what is needed for future years.”

Around £250,000 for flood risk management and £1.7m of road and footbridge spending for 2021/22 has also been agreed by the committee.

Moray Council’s road network includes 376 bridges and 160 retaining walls with a number of them damaged by vehicle collisions in 2020/21, seven of them hit-and-run. The cost of repair work ranged between £1,684 and £17,915 with an average spend of £7,202 at each bridge.

A total of £1, 676,450 will be spent on road and footbridges over the coming year, including strengthening and refurbishment of Shougle Bridge; refurbishment and waterproofing at Dykeside Bridge; waterproofing at Nether Tomdow, Willowbank and Culach Burn Bridges; and collision repairs to Foths Bridge. A replacement for the Sanquahar Loch and other footbridges in Forres was also confirmed.

Cllr Leadbitter added: “Maintaining the road bridge network represents a significant annual cost for the council and it’s concerning to note so many hit-and-run incidents on our bridges. The cost to repair these can’t be recovered and is costing the council tens of thousands of pounds every year. I thank residents who continue to exercise caution when driving on our road bridge network and appreciate their responsibility in taking care of the network.

“Furthermore, it’s positive to see the replacement of footbridges in Forres to allow continued access to a number of walking routes in the area.”

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