THERE have been unprecedented levels of damage to Cambridgeshire s roads this winter because of the length of the prolonged cold weather, the county council said on Tuesday (February 2). And engineers still have no idea how long it will take to fix the

THERE have been "unprecedented levels of damage" to Cambridgeshire's roads this winter because of the length of the prolonged cold weather, the county council said on Tuesday (February 2).

And engineers still have no idea how long it will take to fix the potholes or how much it will cost, though an additional £500,000 has been included in the 2010/11 budget for carriageway repairs.

"We don't know when the cold weather - and therefore the damage it causes - will stop. So we don't know when we shall be able to start permanent repairs or how much damage we shall have to deal with," a council spokesman said.

"What we do know is that there are unprecedented levels of damage to the carriageways because of the length of time the temperatures have been below freezing."

Potholes result when water enters a crack in the road and freezes beneath the surface. As it expands to form ice, it blows the surface material, which quickly fragments and a hole appears.

But CCC refuses to comment on the extent to which the problem has been made worse by inadequate routine maintenance that has led to cracks in carriageways making them vulnerable to breaking up in very cold weather.

In the meantime, the council will continue to make temporary repairs to damage notified by the public.

The number of calls from the public in December and January has quadrupled over the same period last year to 1,600, resulting in more than 3,100 temporary repairs.

INFORMATION: To report a pothole for emergency repair ring the Cambridgeshire County Council contact centre on 0345 045 5212 (8am-8pm Monday-Saturday) or go to http://www2.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/db/CCCForms.nsf/highway_defect