COUNTY chiefs have suspended a string of highway projects in a bid to tackle Dorset’s “weather-battered” roads.

Council crews have been pulled off a number of construction schemes in order to start emergency repairs, to what is now an estimated £7million bill for damage caused by torrential rain and winds.

Dorset County Council has already spent £700,000 on weather-related highways problems since Christmas Eve.

County head of highways operations Andrew Martin said: “The current weather has made it very difficult to carry out some of our construction projects cost-effectively and, more importantly, safely. So we have decided to temporarily close down a number of schemes and divert resources to help the emergency response effort.”

Construction projects suspended over the next couple of weeks include:

  • Bus stop enhancements in Christchurch.
  • Crossing points at West Moors.
  • East Street improvements in Blandford.
  • Cycleway extension work, Black Lane, Blandford.
  • Pimperne School access road, Blandford.

The council will now lobby central government for its share of any emergency funds. Meanwhile, information signs will be displayed at construction sites where work has been suspended.

Mr Martin said: “More people will be available to tackle pothole repairs, clear out ditches and gullies, move fallen trees and ensure drainage systems are working properly.

“Even if the rain stops soon, we will still have a sizeable backlog of issues to sort out, so it makes sense to suspend or delay these construction schemes for a couple of weeks.”

Cllr Hilary Cox, the council’s environment cabinet member said highways teams were prioritising making it safe for residents to travel.

On the suspended projects, the Cllr said: “We will worry about fully restoring them after the crisis has passed, when we will be applying to the government for any support available.”