PROBLEM potholes across Cumbria’s road network are in the sights of highways bosses after the wettest winter in nearly 250 years.
County council officials are working on bids to win extra Government cash to tackle the winter repair bill.
Local garage owners and bike shops are supporting the move after an increase in the number of motorists and cyclists needing repairs and replacements.
Heavy rain that flooded roads and concealed potholes so that road users had driven through them – buckling wheels, breaking spokes, puncturing tyres and putting out tracking devices – had been a major problem, they said.
The new push comes on the back of an unprecedented £10 million blitz by the county council throughout 2013-14 to sort out some of the county’s estimated 40,000 holes.
Cumbria has around 4,784 miles of roads– everything from major routes to minor rural roads – and £50 million of public cash is spent on them annually, including bridges and street lights.
A spokesman said: “The Department for Transport has made a further £103.5m available to local authorities for repairs following adverse winter weather and we are awaiting an announ-cement on Cumbria’s allocation.”
The DfT has also invited authorities to bid for a share of a separate £33.5m fund for repairs to A and B-class roads and bridges.
Another £36.5m is being put up nationally – solely for works on minor roads – although campaigners fear it is not enough. Bids had to be submitted to the DfT by yesterday (Wednesday) and Cumbria was working on its submission.
As well as the pothole issue, the county is seeking £730,000 for repairs to A and B-class roads and bridges.
If successful, this money will be pumped into flood-related issues including £240,000 to replace the damaged sea wall with rock armour on the A5087 Ulverston-Barrow Coast Road at Newbiggin.
A spokesman for Evans Cycles on Stricklandgate, Kendal, said potholes were a regular talking point for customers. He told of children going over handlebars and adult cyclists having to swerve out of the way of craters.
And at Windermere Auto Centre, garage manager Andy Moore said: “Potholes are caused by water and frost and on these vehicles the tolerance of the suspension is so precise if it hits a pothole there’s a chance of knocking out the steering geometry which causes uneven tyre wear.”
Nationally, research shows that 2.2 million potholes were fixed last year – 500,000 more than the year before. However, the backlog in repairs is estimated at £10.5 billion.