Last week, I found myself cycling along Walsall’s new ring road, between the Littleton Street junction and Bridgeman Street, in moderately heavy rain. Once pitched by the Walsall Press Office as ‘A 21st Century Road’, this unloved, unlovely road suffers a distinctly 19th Century problem: poor drainage. Whole sections of the way were carrying several millimetres of standing water, which passing vehicles turn into spray, soaking everyone around, and limiting visibility.
Today, I rode the route in dry conditions, and thought about the causes. The cambers seem OK, although some parts of the road suface appear to have sunk considerably. Whole sections of the carriageway are drained using hollow kerb blocks with drainage holes at road level in the front. May of these channels appeared to be blocked when the rain came.
One of the worst spots was between Blue Lane West and the Pleck Road Junction, just on the bridge opposite the old Smith’s Mill. Although there is obviously a complex profile and cant to the tarmac here, huge pools formed in the gutters and reservations. Today I found out why.
These gullies – four in a row – don’t appear to have been cleaned since the road was built, and are so laden with silt that little will drain through them. These are just the ones I spotted in a cursory search. Nobody heard of preventative maintenance? This road is apparently the jewel in Walsall’s crown, yet maintaining adequate drainage, pioneered by the Victorians 150 years ago, seems beyond the technical brains at Walsall Council.
Every time it rains, huge sections of a two year old road flood. Looking at the state of these gullies, it can hardly be surprising.