Kingdom on the road to recovery?

Bennochy Road, Kirkcaldy, outside the entrance to the railway station car park.
Bennochy Road, Kirkcaldy, outside the entrance to the railway station car park.

THE condition of the roads in Fife is improving – but it will still require millions to be spent to bring the region’s network up to a decent standard.

During this financial year, Fife Council intends spending £24.3m on its roads, covering structural, routine and winter maintenance, and street lighting.

But a road maintenance performance report estimates £82m is required to bring Fife’s roads up to scratch.

And the Road Condition Index (RCI), an annual survey carried out across Scotland, indicates 36.4 per cent of Fife’s roads are either poor or in need of attention, although that’s an improvement on the 42.8 per cent in 2011.

The condition of roads in Fife is generally in line with the Scottish average, but the Kingdom’s A class roads are amongst the poorest in comparison with other local authority areas.

In the 2011 Fife Residents Survey, roads and footpaths were rated the fourth most important service delivered by the Council, but one of the least satisfactory.

Opinions of drivers appear to be mixed on whether road conditions are improving, with Mark Thomson, from Kirkcaldy, saying: “There has been some improvement, as you don’t see as many potholes, but a lot of the road surfaces are really worn and need repaired.

Patches

Linda Kerr, from Lochgelly, said: “All the roadworks going on cause most of the problems. There’s patches all over the roads and most of them haven’t been done properly.”

On the Fife Free Press Facebook page, Morag McCall called for repairs to The Path in Kirkcaldy, where the road surface is in a “really bad condition”, and Susan Quinn said the pothole at Bennochy Bridge traffic lights in Kirkcaldy had been “filled in” on numerous occasions, only to collapse again.

Bob McLellan, the Council’s head of transportation, compiled the road maintenance report, and stated Fife followed national guidelines for the delivery of road maintenance activities, but funding levels had never allowed the full implementation of the good practice levels of service.

The severe winters of 2010 and 2011 had a significant adverse impact on road conditions, but additional investment – including an extra £45m to be spent over 10 years from 2009/10 – was making a difference, as reflected in the improved RCI figures.

Mr McLellan added there was a robust safety inpsection regime in place, and defects identified from safety inspections and from other reported defects, were categorised and repaired accordingly.