Somerset County Council’s Highways Team has started work on two vital summer highways maintenance programmes in the Burnham-On-Sea area covering verges and road surfaces.
Each year more than 9,400km of roadside verges in Somerset are cut and the operation presents a challenge for the Council’s Highways team as a balance must be found between promoting habitat creation and protecting wildlife, and the overall road safety of all road users.
Most highway verges are only cut to a width of one metre (one-swathe width), though some stretches can be cut back beyond this width if there is a need to improve visibility for motorists at specific junctions. As well as ensuring visibility this also helps the flow of water along road channels and provides a safe area for pedestrians where there is no pavement.
The cutting programme began in May and is due to be completed September, depending on the seasonal growing conditions. The routes in which experienced higher volumes of traffic are cut first.
The aim to protect wildlife on roadside verges, while maintaining road safety, consistent with the Somerset Highways Biodiversity Manual and the recently adopted Somerset Pollinator Action Plan, which can be found here.
In addition to verge maintenance, the council has started work to surface dress more than 100 roads over the next couple of months.
Surface dressing is a nationally recognised maintenance technique for sealing a road, improving skid resistance, and preventing water getting under the surface. This is crucial to help stop potholes forming.
It works by coating an existing road with bitumen, covering it with stone chippings and then rolling it.
Our surface dressing teams are mobile, and the work is dependent on dry weather. This means the rolling programme is flexible and dates can change at short notice.
Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital Councillor Mike Rigby, said: “Every year we deliver these programmes in order to ensure safety and longevity of our network. These two elements are important in keeping our highways running efficiently, while aiming to protect and encourage wildlife as much as possible.”
“We are committed to keeping our roads intact and verges trim, but we are always looking to improve our service and the way engage with the public, so together we can ensure our network is safe and resilient.”
“Given the changes to the way in which we manage highway verges and other areas of grass we are working on an online tool to help members of the public to understand our grass-cutting policy as it applies to individual patches of land.”
“If you do spot a problem on the road, you can alert us quickly and easily by using our report it function.”
Residents can find out more about the 2022 programme, including maps showing which roads are included at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/grass-cutting and you can check up on works dates on the map. To report an overgrown verge, pothole or more, click here: Report a problem on the road. You can check which roads are included as part of this year’s programme at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/surface-dressing