There was some excitement last week when the government announced extra funding to tackle “pothole” repairs. The top line figure bandied around was an increase of £5.6 million.
That would have effectively doubled the York Councils highway repairs budget.
It turns out that this included already committed grants which have already been allocated to cover this years repairs programme.
The actual new money increase is £1.8 million.
Even this is not additional money. As the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation has now made clear, it is simply expenditure being re categorised.
It is not the first time that a government has announced the same spending decision on multiple occasions.
Still a substantial sum but, to put it into context, last year the Council spent £1/2 million just repairing one street (Stonegate).
The sooner the Council comes up with proposals – including the use of funds delegated to wards – for the resurfacing programme for this year the better.
Roads will only get busier as the virus threat recedes and people get back to their more normal lifestyles. Road closures and subsequent delays later in the year could impede the City’s economic recovery.
City of York Council is getting a £5.592 million grant from the government to be spent on road maintenance. It would effectively double this years resurfacing and repair budget, although the phasing of the grant hasn’t been confirmed.
When the Council published its repairs budget a few weeks ago it attracted criticism as many paths and carriageways – although uneven and potentially hazardous – were omitted from the programme.
The new money should allow the Council to begin to restore the highways network to standards last seen in the previous decade.
How quickly additional resurfacing capacity can be made available by the Council and its contractors remains to be seen.
We hope that the focus will be on large scale patching and complete carriageway resurfacing schemes, avoiding the prospect of hastily filled potholes reappearing when bad weather returns.
Good to see the North Yorkshire County Council levelling potholes on roads near Healaugh today. The roads are seeing increased use by Corona exercisers (cyclists and walkers) at present, many of whom are from York.
The potholes are mainly on the margins – an area mostly used by cyclists. Obstructions there can present a hazard.
The situation within the York Council area is less clear. Some highway defects have been marked up but it is unclear when repairs will actually be completed.
There has been no announcement by the Council on when the additional pothole filling team will start work although this may be influenced by the current health crisis.
Similarly there has been no announcement of a list of roads and paths that will be resurfaced during the current (financial) year. Resurfacing work is, of course, even less likely to restart before the health restrictions are lifted, but normally a list of roads would have been published by now.
One piece of good news is that contractors have been seen treating weeds around the Honeysuckle House amenity area on Chaloners Road today. It seems that the Council may be able to keep on top of weed growth on paths this year.
Good to see at least some public services continuing in York. Verges and open spaces are being cut today in west York. This will be appreciated by the many additional users who are using parks and other spaces for their daily exercise.
Also the pot hole filling team has been at work with long standing hazards on Foxwood Lane patched this week. This should make cycling safer.
Still a lot of catching up to do though and the highways side.
The Councils transport capital programme is being allocated at a meeting taking place next week. The funding covers the 20/21 financial year and as capital expenditure it much be invested in assets which have an extended life expectancy.
Much of the funding comes from central government although the West Yorkshire Transport Fund will contribute over £8 million to dualling the outer ring road and the remodelling of the station forecourt. It is unclear what the future of this funding will be in the light of the announcement earlier in the week that West Yorkshire will get an elected mayor who will have control over strategy transport funding streams.
Some of the schemes are largely opaque. The Smarter Travel Evolution Programme (STEP) is funded by the National Productivity Investment Fund and aims to implement real- time monitoring and associated infrastructure to allow York to prepare for future transport measures such as connected and autonomous vehicles. The work planned for 2020/21 includes the development of the new transport model for York, and an upgrade of communications equipment across the city. Possibly not a priority for cyclists trying opt negotiate the latest crop of potholes.
The City has yet to hear how much – if any – of the government pothole fund will be allocated t the City. There is also no indication how much Local Transport Pan funding will go towards resurfacing roads and paths.
Including the Councils own resources, nearly £1 million has been located for cycling and pedestrian schemes. £500,000 of this was agreed last July but non has so far been invested. Much of this will be required to repair the neglect of the last 8 years.
The Piccadilly car park will become pay on exit. The programme of modernising traffic signals across the City will continue. Maintenance work will be carried out on Lendal Bridge during the year.