AA members say road drainage is still poor during the summer

19/08/2014
Highways Reporters

Drainage on main and local roads continues to be a problem despite long dry periods this summer. That’s the view of almost half of AA members who took part in a Populus poll.

In June, when the UK received 76% of its average rainfall and 109% of its average sunshine hours, two out of five AA members (40%) said that road drainage was no better than during the winter storms and that big puddles and pools of water remained a threat to drivers. A further 9% said that drainage was even worse than during the period of winter deluges.

Much of the problem comes down to local authorities not knowing where their drains are and their condition, according to a new Department for Transport investigation into the impact of extreme weather on the UK transport system.

The Transport Resilience Review report, published by the Department for Transport, states: “Clearly, drainage systems are a key part of the road network. We were advised that many local authorities do not have comprehensive information records about these assets, and that only in some cases is information about these assets collected as part of their asset management plans.

The report warned that local highway authorities could face the prospect of further flooding going forward “especially if drainage systems are not operating at their maximum effectiveness, because of inadequate maintenance regimes.”

Paul Watters, AA head of roads policy, said: “In the winter, while the UK was focused on ‘biblical’ rainfall in the West Country and the south, the north west and other parts of the country were also experiencing treacherous ponds and puddles on their roads – following normal rainfall.

“From March onwards, rainfall became more normal and this summer has included some long periods of hot, dry weather, occasionally punctuated by typical heavy summer thunderstorms. However, the roads in many and, usually, the same places have often become inundated. Weeks of dry weather should have helped drain the winter water and drainage systems should be resilient enough for summer cloudbursts.

“Along many stretches of often fast road the ‘flood’ signs pop up routinely, or simply remain. That’s far from satisfactory and will lead to extra cost, danger and disruption when heavy rain returns.”
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