THE man in charge of Wakefield’s 5,500 roads admits there is still a bumpy stretch ahead as he tackles the city’s pothole problem.
But highways network manager Graham West insists his small team of 38 is winning the battle to smooth out motorists’ biggest concerns.
Wakefield Council is injecting an extra £500, 000 into road maintenance to tackle the destructive effects of the recent extreme winter weather.
The money will target a hit-list of roads which took the brunt of the damage caused by the coldest December in over 100 years - leaving behind a trail of destructive potholes.
Mr West’s four road gangs have been working six days a week to fill nearly 1,300 holes so far this year and temporary repairs are continuing.
But with eight times more potholes needing urgent repair compared with a typical month, Mr West is warning motorists to be patient.
He said: “We are still doing emergency repairs to potholes, but this extra cash will allow us to fix worst hit roads more permanently.
“Everyone here would love to resurface every road in Wakefield, but the funding is not available.
“Despite what many people think, Wakefield is not in a bad condition. It is mainly the estate roads which still need improving.
“We had seen a continual improvement since 2005, but we have just had three bad months.”
This week Mr West joined his team in Stanley Street, Eastmoor, to show the Express how the process works.
Within minutes holes were filled with hot Tarmac and compacted to smooth over bumpy patches. The average cost of filling a pothole is £60 and the council has been criticised for the short-term mends.
But Mr West said they were helping to make the top priority roads safer until they were resurfaced as part of a summer programme of work.
Mr West is a keen cyclist and biker and appreciates the difficulties potholes can cause, but has been saddened by the abuse his staff gets. The local authority has seen 191 third party claims put to them for damages, but being responsible for 900 miles of roads is difficult.
He said: “I would urge people to let us know about potholes. If they are category one, we will mend them within 24 hours.”
With another 6,000 potholes still on their list, the hard work continues.