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Pot holes send road satisfaction downhill

The public’s attitude to public services.
The rise in the number of pot holes caused by severe icy conditions is likely to have caused a sharp drop in the public’s overall satisfaction with the state of our roads and highways, according to the latest public service satisfaction survey, released today by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

The survey, which monitors change in attitudes to key public services in the UK, shows that only 46% of respondents are now satisfied with the current state of the UK’s roads and highways, compared to 60% per cent in the last quarter of 2009. This follows a sharp rise in the number of pot holes caused by the severe snow and ice. 49% also voted roads and highways as their first or second priority for more investment, up from 40% in the last quarter.

Snow and ice are the worst weather conditions for exacerbating existing road defects. The ingress of water into existing cracks, followed by freezing, expands the cracks.

The freeze/thaw cycle means this process gets repeated and the cracks steadily widen. Vehicles constantly passing over the cracks lead to further deterioration and these cracks widen into pot holes. Continual weight from traffic means the pot holes will keep widening unless they are properly addressed.

According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, there is road damage every 120 yards, with the average cost of repairing a pot hole at £65.

ICE Vice President, Geoff French, said: "There is already an estimated £1bn road maintenance back log, meaning many roads have been in need of proper repair for a very long time. This back log is not being cleared and continues to grow. On top of that we have had the worst winter for 30 years causing further deterioration and consequently,yet more pot holes.

"We need long-term, preventative road maintenance to properly address existing defects, rather than short term ‘quick fixes’. Short term solutions fail to tackle the root of the problem and do not withstand the sorts of conditions we have seen over the past few months. Quick fixes will only lead to more maintenance work, more cost and the public becoming more frustrated."

The ICE survey also showed:

65% are satisfied with public transport services (no change from Q4 ’09)
77% are satisfied with electricity and gas supply to homes (up from 76% in Q4 ’09)
71% are satisfied with rubbish and waste disposal services (down from 73% in Q4 ’09)
65% are satisfied with the provision of flood defences (down from 67% in Q4 ’09)
89% are satisfied with drinking water and sewage services (no change from Q4 ’09)
Whilst roads and highways topped the priority list for more investment, public transport came a close second with 37% putting this as their first or second investment priority.

31% said the disposal of rubbish and waste should be the top priority for investment, electricity and gas supply to homes was next in line at 30%. 24% believed flood defences should be the investment priority and 22% believe investment in drinking water and sewage should be a priority.

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