Politicians are being warned of fatalities if crumbling roads in many parts of the north of Scotland are not urgently repaired.
Accident victims and drivers hit in the wallet have been sharing their experiences and say the volume of potholes has become chronic.
In Caithness, local area Highland councillors have confirmed the authority can only afford to fix 13 of 200 troublespots.
It is not difficult to find casualties. A cyclist was left with a long-term injury after hitting potholes after avoiding an oncoming car.
Lois Gray, a university lecturer from Castletown, said: “I hadn’t appreciated quite how deep they were and the very last one had a very straight edge, so my front tyre hit that very straight edge, threw me off and my knee took the straight edge as well.
“I was cut down thorough the skin and muscle almost to the bone on my knee.”
Car driver Elizabeth Jones, whose vehicle suffered broken suspension after hitting a deep pothole, said road conditions had deteriorated significantly since she had moved to Castletown.
She said: “There was one comment my mum said, actually, as she drove along the roads.
“She said ‘wow, these roads look like a runway. They’re so well lit up and they’re so well maintained’.
“Now, almost 23 years later, I just think they resemble something from a third world country – they’re just craters.”
There is widespread anger for people living on the Caithness stretch of the NorthCoast500 tourist route.
William Tomlinson said: “The car that I would normally drive is in the garage this week getting repaired after hitting another very large pothole.
“I can’t afford to do that all the time. But it’s not the money. It’s the fact that someone will be killed on these roads. These roads are extremely dangerous now.”
Iain Gregory, a former area police commander, was a co-founder of the campaign group Caithness Roads Recovery.
Two years on, he said: “We’re now facing almost complete collapse of the infrastructure. Roads infrastructure and people’s lives are being disrupted.
“Things are very, very serious. Yes, there have been accidents. Yes, people have been injured. So far, thank goodness, we haven’t had a tragedy.
“But I fear that unless action is taken very, very quickly, that is exactly what’s going to happen.”
The most recent estimates for repairs are alarming. Of the councils that revealed figures, Highland – with the biggest network – was highest at £195million pounds.
The breakdown in figures from each local authority, obtained under FOI, reveal:
- Highland £195m
- Aberdeenshire £99m
- Perth & Kinross £89m
- Fife £78m
- Angus £56m
- Moray £41m
- Western Isles £36m
- Shetland £34m
- Dundee £23m
- Orkney £427,000
Although garages are making money from the repairs they are not particularly celebrating the fact.
Colin Johnston, who owns County Garage in Thurso, said: “I reckon Caithness should be away from Highland Council.
“I’ll always say that and I’ll agree with Iain Gregory on that side of it. We should be away from it.
“You know, I feel sorry for a lot of people whose vehicles are damaged.”
The Scottish Government says it has increased funding to councils. Highland, for one, says it is not enough.
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