Surrey road network 'needs £400m' ahead of Olympic race

Image caption,
Labour candidate Tim Shand focussed on potholes in his election campaign

About £400m needs to be spent to bring Surrey's roads up to scratch at a time when the county is under pressure as it hosts next year's Olympic cycle race.

Over the next four years, £34m will be spent on Surrey's roads. But councillor Ian Lake said £400m was needed to get the network to where it should be.

London 2012 organisers have demanded repairs before the Olympic cycle race passes through the county next year.

Mr Lake, transport spokesman, said the work would have to be done "piecemeal".

Roads have been a top issue in the county since the general election and during talks over next year's county council budget.

During the election campaign, Labour candidate Tim Shand enlisted the help of local people in the search for Guildford's worst pothole.

"It will take £400m to bring roads up to complete scratch. We have to do it piecemeal. But we are very keen to support it [the cycle race]," Mr Lake said.

'Gold rush' expected

The detail of the road repairs requested by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) had not yet been finalised but there would be a plan for what needed to be done across the county, he added.

"Some roads featured on the course may be brought forward in terms of timescale," he said.

Mr Lake added: "Locog is satisfied with the quality of Surrey's roads but would like some work to be done. This will include filling potholes and some resurfacing work but the majority of this work would have been done in the coming year or so whether the road races were taking place or not."

Locog said it had been working with Surrey and other London authorities to evaluate road works needed to both road surfaces and street furniture.

A spokeswoman said: "This is an ongoing process over the next 18 months to bring the roads to a standard suitable for the event.

"We do not envisage extensive resurfacing work, but repairs in most cases to bring the roads back to a suitable standard."

Next year's race route takes cyclists from The Mall, through west London and then out to Surrey and back. The Surrey section includes a 15.5km (9.6 miles) circuit around Box Hill.

A million spectators are expected to line the route in Surrey.

The Tory-run county council has said the cycle race could spark a "gold rush" for local businesses with increased visitor spending, tourism and global exposure to a TV audience of billions.

The authority estimated Surrey's economy could benefit by about £40m.

Image caption,
The county council said Surrey had the third highest traffic levels out of authorities across Britain

Mr Lake said £400m would be needed to bring Surrey's roads completely up to scratch "in an ideal world", but no figure was available for how much would need to be spent annually to achieve the same result.

Next year, £16.3m will be spent on roads in the county. The council said the money would pay for 200 miles of resurfacing which was about the same distance as driving from London to Manchester.

Over the next four years, £34m will be spent on roads - £12m will come from the council's revenue budget and £22m will come from the council's capital budget for major highways projects.

On Wednesday, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced an extra £100m would be given to councils across the country to repair potholes.

Dr Andrew Povey, Surrey County Council leader and chairman of South East Strategic Leaders, said he hoped the government would consider traffic flow as well as how many road miles each council maintained and the condition of roads, when it allocated the money.

The council said Surrey had the third highest traffic levels in Britain compared with other authorities. Hampshire had the highest traffic levels, followed by Kent.

Image caption,
Route of the Olympic cycling road race. Image: Locog

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