Storms Ciara and Dennis hit the county in February, leaving behind a trail of highway destruction which it will take two years to fully repair.
A virtual meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet approved £1.6m in funding – out of a total £4.7m overall bill – for the most urgent remedial work which will need to take place over the next six months.
That money will come from an additional £5m which was added to the highway maintenance pot when the authority set its budget just three months ago – and was intended as a boost to the upkeep of the county’s roads.
Papers presented to the meeting state that individual schemes to utilise the extra cash had yet to be identified and that the most urgent storm damage – which could lead to road closures and “community severance” if not addressed – will now be the “first call” on the funding.
However, the documents also reveal the potential for almost the entire £5m pot to be swallowed up with the remaining non-urgent weather-related repairs, which will be carried out in two phases – priority jobs in between six and 12 months’ time and the remainder for up to a year after that. If any underspends are identified in this year’s budget, that work could be brought forward.
Seven urgent repairs will now take place, focusing on damage to highways, bridges and drains. The most expensive individual scheme is the repair of a landslip on Walmsley Bridge Lane in Barnacre-with-Bonds, south east of Garstang, which will cost £393,000 to put right.
Only two of the repairs are on A-roads – the A646 Burnley Road, in Cliviger, which is showing similar signs of subsidence to that displayed during the aftermath of Storm Desmond, with the surface having split and dropped noticeably. Temporary traffic lights will be used to allow reconstruction work, costing £343,000, to be carried out.
Repairs will also be undertaken following the collapse of a retaining wall of the Rivington Reservoir alongside the the A673 Bolton Road in Adlington, where traffic control measures are already in place. The scheme will cost £333,000.
The remaining repairs are: reconstruction of a collapsed culvert and road surface on Bells Lane in Hoghton (£110,000); the rebuilding of an undermined retaining wall on the Sawley River in Ribble Valley, which has caused carriageway cracking (£250,000); work to prevent the possible collapse of the Coplow Brook bridge on West Bradford Road, between Waddington and West Bradford, also in Ribble Valley (£200,000); and reconstruction of the carriageway on Oakenclough Road, close to Bleasdale Lane in Preston, parts of which were washed away (£6,000).
Locations for the non-urgent repairs have not yet been made public.
Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways, said: “The £5m which we put into highways [means] this is possible – if you have got the reserves, you can do these things.”
Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali requested an update on concerns he has raised previously about the condition of cobbled streets, mostly in East Lancashire, which he said were now "getting worse by the day".
County Cllr Iddon said that he was unable to commit to when a report on the subject would come before cabinet, but that he would provide an update to County Cllr Ali personally.