With the arrival of spring road maintenance crews are assessing the damage to roads caused by the harsh winter and the news is not good. According to preliminary estimates the costs could be 50 to 60 percent higher than in previous years.
With the arrival of spring the number of cars on Czech roads significantly increases. Millions of Czechs used to spending their weekends at country cottages from March until late October are once again heading out and finding the familiar roads much the worse for wear. Following several months of snow, ice and gravel, sand or salt which is still used by maintenance crews to keep the roads navigable in harsh winter conditions, most of the country’s roads are dotted with potholes.
In the winter months the Road Maintenance Authority only fixes those that present a serious danger, and it fixes them with a mix of gravel and tar that generally only lasts a few weeks. The annual spring maintenance of roads only starts in April and first class roads are naturally given priority. As a result second and third class roads present a problem for many more months.
This year the Road Maintenance Authority expects repair costs to double as compared to previous years, saying the cost of maintenance of the country’s highways could run up to 100 million crowns. Work on those should take up all of April and problems on second and third class roads will only be addressed after that. Moreover, finances could be a problem since on milder winters money is saved on winter maintenance and more can be spent on improving the state of the roads with the arrival of spring.
The authorities in Brno say they have 21 million crowns left for road maintenance and hope to see the work concluded by mid-year.
Meanwhile, drivers who have already damaged their cars in potholes complain it is not always easy to get compensation for the damage from the Road Maintenance Authority. The pothole must be documented and even then much depends on the state of the road and whether the driver could have avoided the pothole in that particular locality.
With complaints piling up the daily Mladá fronta Dnes has launched a campaign to get the worst potholes in the country documented and fixed. Readers are invited to take a snapshot of offending potholes in their locality which deserve immediate attention and send it to the daily’s regional office which will then pass on the information to the local road maintenance authority. Drivers have welcomed the offer hoping that with the media acting as watchdog the chances that their particular stretch of the road will get fixed sooner may increase.