Fringe Box



Opinion: When is A Pothole Big Enough? – Surrey’s ‘Matrix’ Madness

Published on: 9 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 10 Mar, 2017

Cyclist injured (not the fatal casualty at Weybridge referred to) at the pot holed junction of Ockham Road North and Ockham Lane

By Tony Edwards

We might hope that the recent, sad death of a cyclist who was thrown from his bike after hitting a pothole on a Surrey Road  might focus the attention of Surrey County Council’s (SCC) highways maintenance teams on the appalling state of repair of so many of our local roads.

But I doubt. Nothing gets done unless the level of road surface damage meets Surrey’s “Matrix” test.  And that means if the holes – no matter how many and how potentially dangerous – are not quite deep enough to fit their matrix, they are ignored and sent to the back of the repair queue.

Cyclists have, for more than two years, encountered something of an obstacle course – with resultant accidents – when they reach the War Memorial junction of Ockham Road North and Ockham Lane.

Continual stopping and starting of cars and lorries – with the inevitable skidding of tyres and extra pressure on the road surface – has ploughed up the road surface and created deep grooves in some long-standing but clearly sub-standard attempts to fill-in the holes.

But they are not, it seems, deep enough to meet the stringent requirements of the SCC ‘Matrix’ test and do not, therefore, qualify for a full repair.

Not big enough to fix. A pot hole at the bumpy junction in Ockham

Instead Surrey has, in the past, made half-hearted attempts at what they call “Jet Patching”, which seems to boil down to throwing a bit of tarmac in the hole and stamping on it with a size 10 boot.  But the light patching is very soon thrown out by passing vehicles, so the process is a complete waste of rate-payers’ time and money.

And the appallingly irregular surface of the road also creates a noise nuisance when large lorries bounce in an out of the holes, rattling their cargo and sending shock waves through the ground to nearby homes.  But SCC doesn’t have a matrix for noise or damage to property and so the nightmare scenario continues.

SCC says it’s about budgets so I’ve offered to pay for their contractor – or any other contractor – to complete the work by the War Memorial in Ockham.  Sorry, they say, that’s not allowed; you’ll have to wait until the holes meet the requirements of our matrix.  Meanwhile the battalions of lycra-cyclists, and all other cyclists, who use Ockham’s local lanes almost every day, run the risk of being toppled from their bikes.

The latest “remedy” for the problem is a free-standing road sign indicating bumps ahead.  Still, at least this suggests they now acknowledge that a problem exists – even if they have no intention of dealing with it.  I’m hoping for yet another site meeting with one of the SCC Highways maintenance team sometime soon but I won’t bet on it – or the outcome.

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