Saturday, January 02, 2010
Snow Stories (2)
I think we knew before we heard that it was the coldest December for 10 years, with the promise of more on the way next week.
Local councils have been following through well-rehearsed gritting and plouging routines since before Christmas - with more or less success. There has been a temptation in recent years, with milder winters, to cut or slash gritting budgets and reduce the total mileage covered. I'm pleased to say that this has been a trend that Darlington has more or less resisted, although there are some examples nearby of big councils doing precisely the opposite, and coming in for heavy criticism as a result.
During that very brief thaw, however, another problem was beginning to come to light. The prolonged freeze seems to have created damage to the road infrastructure across the town. Where there were potholes waiting to be repaired, then the impact of the ice and salt has often made things far worse.
The 2 photos above illustrate the point. The lower photo is of the road surface at the junction of Wylam Avenue and Thompson Street East in my ward. Recently, two residents raised the problem with us here and on Thompson Street East itself, and we duly took up the issue with the Council. We were promised patching for Wylam Avenue (within 20 days), and some more structural work on Thompson Street East, where the problems are more deep set.
Of course, the bad weather will have set back the work, but when I visited Wylam Avenue on Friday, the holes were bigger, as the edges had begun to break up. The top photo is of Barnard Street in the town centre yesterday afternoon. A whole chunk of asphalt has come away as the ice has melted.
Once the cold spell is over, I suspect councils up and down the country will have to review their response to prolonged cold weather, to assess whether changes will have to be made. This will have to be in the wider context of global warming, of course, where the broader challenges we face, as far as roads and pavements are concerned, centre on the damage caused by flooding and very hot summers.