REPAIRING Hampshire’s flood-damaged roads after the wettest winter on record could cost up to £36 million.
The huge repair bill was revealed as the Government said it was making available £140m to repair roads – but that pot is to be dished out to whole country.
It comes weeks after county bosses passed a budget that aims to cut £3.4m from road maintenance as part of an overall drive to save £92million.
Initially, it was thought that the repair bill would be several million, but the true bill has rocketed as the true extent of the damage became clear.
The county’s roads are ravaged by hundreds of potholes as well as widespread scarring to the road surface after a constant barrage of storms.
Engineers are faced with widespread drainage work and once river levels have subsided they are preparing to deploy underwater divers to assess damage to bridge structures.
But Environment Councillor Seán Woodward said it was unclear how much of the Government cash the county council would receive, and warned the full extent of the damage will only become clear once ground levels receded.
He said: "Our estimate is that, to fix the extensive winter damage on Hampshire’s roads would cost between £25m and £36m.
“We are committed to keeping Hampshire moving, and will, as soon as we can, assess the damage to the road network, prioritise what needs to be done first, and programme in the works.
“We have 5,280 miles of road in Hampshire to take care of – many of which have suffered prolonged flooding while all of Hampshire has experienced extremely heavy rainfall over many weeks.
“Excessive water seeping into the road surface, followed by freezing overnight temperatures, causes it to break up from underneath, causing damage, and creating defects and potholes which are costly to repair.”
He added:“During the flooding, we’ve been working around the clock to keep the roads open, clearing water and fallen trees, and, in some instances, building temporary roads above flooding to keep major routes open where it is possible to do this. We are now looking at plans for resurfacing the worst affected roads and pavements, drainage works and edge repairs.”
A Department of Transport spokesman said it was now inviting local authorities to bid for the money.
Southampton City Council said it has not calculated its repair bill yet.