Argyll & Bute on the road to a better local network

A pothole pictured earlier this year on the A886 not far before the turning to Dunoon.
A pothole pictured earlier this year on the A886 not far before the turning to Dunoon.

Ongoing investment in Argyll and Bute’s is halting deteriorating roads and beginning to improve the overall road network condition.

Argyll and Bute is now one of the top five fastest improving Scottish Local Authorities in terms of road condition. The Annual Status and Options Report (ASOR) summarises the council’s road assets as at April 2018 and sets out future options that can be considered in terms of investment.

The latest Road Condition Indicator (RCI) Survey shows that a smaller percentage of roads (16.34 per cent) are flagged as in a ‘red’ condition and 45.5 per cent are in the green zone.

Road condition is measured by the Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey (SRMCS) which assesses parameters such as surface texture and cracking, smoothness and rutting.

A total of £16 million additional investment in roads, for the next two years was approved in February 2018. This has been prioritised towards cost effective treatments that will cover more area, seal cracks and prevent water penetration. This work protects previous investment until more robust treatments can be afforded.

The ASOR also highlights the savings that are being achieved through the switch to LED lamps in street lighting, which will be complete by the end of the year by which time more than 14,500 luminaries will have been replaced. LEDs use less energy and have a longer lifecycle and we have already seen a £241,000 saving on last year’s energy costs, as well as being better for the environment.

Policy lead for roads and amenity services, Councillor Roddy McCuish, said: “It is encouraging to see that prioritising investment is leading to steady improvement in the roads network. Our residents and businesses use it daily and rely on it for social and economic benefits. It’s part of our lives and livelihoods.

“We must also take a reality check. Calculations done for each local authority show that it will take investment of £10m each year to keep Argyll and Bute’s roads in their current condition. To get them up to a fully maintained state, in one year, would cost £101m.

“Year on year cuts to our funding mean that, like all councils, we must think carefully about how we provide the vital services you tell us you need. There is still additional commitment for our roads for the next two years.

“Savings generated through the LED project will enable funding for any necessary column replacements identified during the LED replacement works and other electrical upgrade projects for our street lighting network.”

Supporting the increased funding is an enhanced carriageway inspection regime which identifies and deals with faults before they become issues for road users. Nearly one third of our local network is made up of unclassified roads, over 80 per cent of the network is in rural areas and 23 per cent are over peat, which costs more to build and maintain.