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Council commits £52 million to road improvements

Council leaders have today (Tuesday) approved a multi-million-pound investment programme to improve hundreds of miles of Wiltshire’s roads over the next six years.

The approved recommendation means the council will spend more than £52 million extra over the next six years (£21 million a year) on road improvements up to 2020, which would clear the existing maintenance backlog on the county’s roads – and includes a commitment to working with area boards to set local priorities.

Surveys of people across Wiltshire have consistently shown they are in favour of more being spent to improve the road network.

A report to today’s meeting of Wiltshire Council cabinet included a range of options for maintaining and improving the county’s 2,750 miles of roads.

The recommended and approved option is to allow almost 150 miles of road to be resurfaced every year for the next six years.

Cheaper options would either maintain the road network in its existing condition or result in a moderate improvement.

A £100million-a-year option to upgrade the entire road network in Wiltshire was ruled out as being unaffordable.

Part of the investment programme will be decided in consultation with the county’s area boards early in the new year.

Planning of the programme will now take place over the next five months with the improvements starting in 2014. The council has detailed data to help prioritise the work.

John Thomson, cabinet member for highways, said: “Road maintenance is clearly a priority for our communities and it’s a priority for us.

“Like many local authorities, we’re finding that a succession of severe winters and flooding has meant many of our roads have deteriorated to the point where simply maintaining them in their current state is not viable. We need to invest further to improve our vast road network, which will result in fewer injuries from traffic incidents.”

Funding for the investment programme will come from the annual maintenance grant from the Department for Transport, with the rest made up by drawing on agreed borrowing within the council’s financial plans.