Surrey’s pothole project hailed success but is ‘not moving fast enough’

Project Horizon, a five-year plan to rebuild Surrey’s pothole-strewn roads, has been called a success in its one-year report although there is a “back-log” of roads to get through

A pothole on Randall’s Road, Leatherhead

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A project to rebuild the county’s pothole-strewn roads has been hailed a success after 81 miles of road were repaired – six miles more than the target – despite slow progress in some boroughs.

Surrey County Council’s Operation Horizon, which started last March, will continue for the next four years and will see the ‘worst’ 310 miles of roads replaced.

Tandridge has been by far the biggest beneficiary of the scheme so far, with 26 miles of road already resurfaced. Although Waverley will eventually receive the most attention of any borough, this year it only saw eight miles fixed.

Surrey county councillor for Waverley Eastern Villages, Victoria Young, said all the roads that were scheduled to be tended to in the first year of the scheme, in her ward, had been completed.

“Waverley has some of the roads in the worst condition because of it being so rural,” she said.

In Guildford, nearly 12 miles of roads were identified for replacement in the first year of the project but, according to the year one review, just 9.3 miles of repairs were completed in 2013/14.

Liberal Democrat councillor David Goodwin said he is pleased, overall, with the way the project is coming along, although there have been problems in Cline Road and Agraria Road with pipes cracking because of the vibrations.

“Until these last couple of weeks everything was going quite well and most people praised the work in other parts of the county,” he told Get Surrey. “They are hoping to make up the shortfall by bringing roads forward from years three to five to this year.

“In the first year they brought quite a few forward as well.”

‘Back-log’

Elsewhere, Mole Valley had 14 miles resurfaced, Elmbridge and Reigate & Banstead both had seven miles completed, while Woking saw just four miles of repaired roads this year.

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, who represents Dorking South and the Holmwoods, said: “We have had a lot of compliments from residents about the work and how efficiently it has been done, which is very different from previous infrastructure projects we have carried out.

“My only concern is that it is not moving fast enough. We have a big back-log of roads to catch up on.”

But Spelthorne, Runnymede, Surrey Heath and Epsom must all wait their turn as all four boroughs saw 2.5 miles or less of work completed this year, with the majority of work scheduled for years three to five. Runnymede was not touched by Project Horizon at all this year.

There was an early delay in the project, put down to the county elections, because it was not signed off by the council until August, which meant the year one programme was reduced from 12 to nine months.

Council officers blamed utility companies for some delays.

Under legislation, companies have 12 weeks to review highway schemes for clashes, but regularly left it until the last minute.

“Thus almost all schemes had 11 weeks of inactivity followed by rushed meetings,” the year-one report notes.

Officers assessed the project in year one as “fully effective” in terms of the roads fixed. It achieved savings of £4.4m, which will be reinvested into the second year’s programme.

The report, considered by the environment and transport select committee on September 10, noted that not enough notice was given for some local projects and that there could have been better communication generally with the public about repairs.

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