Falkirk is on the right road

Polmont Main Street
Polmont Main Street

After two of the harshest winters in memory, Falkirk’s roads are suffering.

The carriageways are in such need of attention that Falkirk Council’s roads department has earmarked an additional £500,000 of revenue solely for repairing them.

Adding that to the £2.6 million already allocated for structural maintenance work means in total £3.1 will go on planned programmes in 2012-13, with additional reserves for emergency repairs such as pot holes.

“Roads are certainly a big talking point,” said Robert McMaster, head of roads and design with Falkirk Council.

“The department gets phone calls and e-mails every day from concerned members of the public about roads.

‘‘Obviously everyone has their opinion on what should be looked at first but the fairest way of dividing the budget is with our rating system.”

This system is part of the road asset management plan and directs the available funds to the areas most in need of attention,

The annual budget is split 70/30 with the majority of cash going to the high volume carriageways and the remainder to low volume, rural and unclassified residential roads in the Falkirk Council area.

During 2012-13 £2.05 million will be spent on maintaining and developing carriageways, with a further £744,320 going on local footways and £23,260 on street furniture - assets like traffic islands and bollards.

Mr McMaster said: “Every road in the country in surveyed each year and its condition given a rating out of 100 – the higher the figure, the worse state the road is in.

“We take that figure and combine it with its hierarchy rating – basically how important it is to local people. For example, does it connect one part of the district to the centre and how many vehicles use the road on a daily basis.

“We then plan our maintenance programme to carry out work on the roads with the highest ratings.

“It would be great if we could do work on every road that needs attention but obviously we are constrained by the budget.

‘‘We get round as many as we can and the ratings system seems to be the only fair way of spending the budget.”

The high volume road with the worst rating is Polmont Main Street, west of Kirk Entry, with the A883 at Lochlands Bend, Larbert second and Earls Road in Grangemouth third.

These three roads alone will cost Falkirk Council £168,000 to repair, with maintaining Grange Road in Polmont the most expensive planned work in 2012-13, coming in at an estimated £106,000.

For low volume roads, Glebe Street in Falkirk town centre has the highest rating with Earls Road service road in Grangemouth second and Kirkwood Avenue in Redding third.

In total, 26 high volume roads are earmarked for repair this year and 19 low volume and unclassified carriageways.

However, Dot Reid, asset management officer with Falkirk Council roads department, says there is fluidity.

“There is some come and go with the maintenance plan, for example Mary Street in Laurieston has a high enough rating to warrant being included - and it was - until we were told that there will be massive works on the water mains there this year and therefore there’s no point in carrying out improvement works.

“We work with utilities providers to make sure we are not improving roads, only for them to come along behind us and rip them up again.

“This year we received an additional £500,000 revenue which we decided to solely spend on carriageways, not on footpaths or street furniture, because we appreciate that the roads in the district really need attention and should be the priority.

“And I should stress that there is a separate budget to deal with emergency repairs, like pot holes from hard frosts, so if we do experience another particularly harsh winter, there is money there to cover it.

“We know that everyone has their opinion on what roads need attention and rating is the fairest way of doing it. We need to have some sort of priority and the roads that just fail to make the required rating for work in the 2012-13 programme will hopefully fall into the following year’s maintenance list.”