With the roads in the city having been quieter over the past few weeks, ODS’ highways and engineering team has taken advantage of the situation to increase the number of potholes they have been able to fill.
Since the lockdown began ODS have repaired 1531 highway defects, including 638 potholes, and completed 381 inspections. That’s a huge increase in defect repairs on the same period last year (the final week of March to the end April), when the crews completed work on 708 defects.
“Oxford has experienced lower levels of traffic so the highways and engineering team has exploited the quieter roads to get out and do more repairs.
“A well-maintained road network is essential for helping keyworkers, whether they are emergency vehicles responding to calls or NHS workers traveling to and from work. But it can be hard to repair during normal daily use. Whilst the roads are quiet ODS has been following Public Health England safety guidance and carrying out repairs that we will all benefit from when the lockdown is over.
“Coupled with the improvements that the City Council and County Council are funding for pedestrians and cyclists, the longer-term legacy of this period of reduced traffic and increased defect repairs will soon become be apparent for all road users.
“This will include increased bicycle parking and wider cycle paths into Oxford, to enable drivers to park at the park and rides and carry out the rest of the journey by bike. The City Council has committed £234,000 to kick-start work on the measures.”
Cllr Nigel Chapman, Cabinet Member for Customer Focused Services.
“Repairing potholes in your local area is particularly satisfying, as is knowing that a road you, your family, and key workers like the NHS, use regularly has been repaired to the highest possible standard.
“In this period we’ve found that we are also able to access those awkward potholes that are often inaccessible due to parked cars in controlled parking bays on city centre streets; and it has also been a good time to tackle loose and rocking slabs on city centre footways. We have also brought forward our programme of planned resurfacing works across several areas in Oxford’s city centre.”
Sophie Hearn, Head of Infrastructure at ODS
A vital role
Highways maintenance teams are essential workers. They play a vital role in keeping roads open and motorists safe.
ODS has a largely local workforce with over half living in Oxford and ninety-six per cent within Oxfordshire, making travelling to work for them relatively easy during lock down when public transport, for example, is reduced.
All workers have access to appropriate PPE including facemasks, latex gloves, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial hand wipes when they are working. Where possible, operatives go out in separate vehicles, and all our drivers are isolated by the nature of their work and follow new site rules.
Repairing roads, surface dressing and pothole filling are also imperative for greening the future to encourage more people to continue the exercise habits they’ve developed during lock down.
ODS is a wholly-owned company of Oxford City Council, which maintains the city’s roads on behalf of the County Council. Surplus funds from its activities for the City Council and in the commercial sector are returned to the City Council to help fund services across the city, resulting in a double win for Oxford’s communities.