Weeks of torrential rain and flooding will cause Scotland’s £2 billion backlog in road repairs to spiral, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has warned.
Ronnie Hunter, an ICE committee member, said more roads would fail as a result of exceptionally wet weather and a legacy of poor maintenance across the country’s trunk network.
Yesterday a lane of the M8 had to be shut for emergency repairs to a pothole that opened up in the eastbound carriageway near Shotts.
Motorists are reporting major pothole problems on many roads in areas hit by recent storms and flooding.
Storm Gertrude is expected to bring further extreme weather over the weekend, accelerating the deterioration that has been caused by repeated inundations. “When you design a road, it’s designed with a lifespan,” Mr Hunter said. “To maintain that lifespan you have to maintain the surface, and the key thing is to stop water getting through the surface.
“Once the surface goes, you lose it, frankly. The more rain you have, the more you have to pay attention to drainage and getting rid of surface water.
“Drivers will see the condition of the roads deteriorating — it will be obvious to everyone, and the longer you delay making repairs, the worse it will get.”
The ICE has recommended the introduction of tolls to provide additional finance for road repairs, a call Mr Hunter restated ahead of Holyrood elections in just over three months’ time.
“What we want to know from political parties is, what’s your plan? We know what the problem is. We’re asking them to commit to infrastructure the same way they commit to health and education.”
Scotland was braced last night for the arrival of Storm Gertrude, bringing 90mph gusts and further rain overnight to already sodden parts of the country.
The Met Office issued an amber warning yesterday for gale-force winds and torrential rain across large parts of Scotland through this morning.
A yellow warning for ice is also in force until tomorrow, with wintry showers expected to make driving conditions treacherous across the north of the country.
The Met Office said gusts of up to 90mph across Orkney and Shetland were likely.
Forecasters said: “Some structural damage is also possible, as well as disruption to power supplies. Heavy rain and surface water will be additional hazards in places.” Householders have been urged to be prepared for possible disruption to electricity supplies.
Schools on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have been shut today as a precaution. Scottish Borders Council has warned residents that their homes could be flooded again
The Forth road bridge is likely to be closed to all traffic except cars this morning and may be shut entirely as winds peak.
Disruption to public transport is expected, with ScotRail introducing an emergency timetable and cancelling services, and CalMac warning of “extensive disruption” to ferry services.
The Scottish government’s resilience committee met yesterday to discuss preparations for Storm Gertrude, and Transport Scotland’s multi-agency response team will monitor conditions throughout today.