THE snow over our never-ending winter has left our roads in a real mess – and let’s be honest, they were hardly in great shape to start with.
Driving across Rossendale can feel like an off-road adventure, even when travelling on some of our main roads.
Lancashire county council has announced it is to spend £30m on improving the infrastructure associated with Lancashire’s roads.
As ever, it’s hard to tell how much of the money is new money, but £30m is always going to be welcome.
It compares with a similar amount committed to improving roads committed by the council in 2016, for example.
Of the £30m, £23m will be spent on resurfacing roads.
The county council says of that £23m, £10m will be used on fixing potholes. Will it be enough? Well since the announcement was made by LCC, we’ve had a further dose of snow, and in turn, the government has announced emergency money to help councils sort out the roads.
Lancashire will get around £2.3m.
Again, my suspicion is that the money won’t be anything like enough to actually get our roads to an acceptable state for road users who are, in the main, tax payers.
In an area like Rossendale, the state of the roads will have a direct impact on the likelihood of businesses choosing to invest in the area.
As has been very well documented, this area doesn’t have a train, so travel is entirely by road.
Beyond the M66 and A56, fast road links to other areas simply don’t exist.
So it’s essential the roads we do have, work.
The problem overall is that councils get around £21,000 per mile they maintain, whereas £1.1m is spent per mile of strategic road maintained – motorways in the main.
Like so many things in local government, it all comes down to money in the end.
And councils, even ones like LCC finding extra cash to put into roads, don’t have the cash to catch up on roads which have been crumbling for years.
In parts of Rossendale, the problem is made worse by the regular closures of the A56 and M66 at night for what feels like the ever-present yet ever-changing overnight roadworks taking place.
That means that roads such as Market Street in Edenfield will regularly take a pounding from lorries and other heavy vehicles all night.
Over time, surely that damages the roads.
Indeed, the centre of Edenfield’s roads did, the last time I was there, feel like a trek across Scout Moor.
In 2013, Rossendale MP Jake Berry launched a pothole watch campaign which was designed to get more focus on the roads in our area at County Hall.
It’s as needed now as it ever was.
In other parts of the country, people now plant flowers in potholes to make their point, while in one town in Essex, the local community held a birthday party for a particularly menacing pothole.
And that’s part of the problem – potholes are becoming more menacing.
On one hand, it can be fascinating to look into a pothole and see the cobbles of the old street underneath.
On the other hand, it’s sad that decades on from those cobbles being laid, we seem to have more unreliable road surfacing than we did back then– and an uphill battle to keep those cobbles covered up.
●● A pothole on Pennine Road in Bacup