DEVON County Council has warned the recent freezing temperatures will cause maintenance problems on the roads and will add to the existing £215 million backlog of repairs, with a potential extra £2 million extra needed to fill the gaps. At low temperature

DEVON County Council has warned the recent freezing temperatures will cause maintenance problems on the roads and will add to the existing £215 million backlog of repairs, with a potential extra £2 million extra needed to fill the gaps.At low temperatures the road surface can become stiffer and can result in cracking, or an increase in existing damage, while chippings can loosen and potholes can form.Devon spends around £7 million per year on patching works - with more than £2 million of this on safety work reacting to sudden faults such as pothole repairs. Additional maintenance that may be required due to the weather could cost an extra £2 million above normal budget spending."It is too early to predict the scale of damage caused by this prolonged cold spell but it could double the demand for 'reactive' maintenance over the coming months," said Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment."These repairs have little effect on reducing the maintenance backlog but are necessary to keep roads in a safe condition. "Devon is responsible for the biggest road network in the country with almost 8,000 miles to maintain. While the winter weather will no doubt leave our roads even more vulnerable we will continue to do our best within our limited budget."During the past three months, sub zero temperatures have also created exceptional demand for road salting. From the first treatment on October 27, until January 12, gritters have turned out on 68 occasions, using 8,800 tonnes of salt at a cost of £515,000. The number of callouts equals the total figure for the whole winter last yearAn extra 6,000 tonnes has been delivered to cope with increased workload, as road temperatures dropped to as low as -10 degrees C.During the past week the council's Highway Operations Control Centre has experienced an increase in reports of burst water mains, receiving 270 requests for assistance from South West Water when there has been the risk of leaking water turning to ice on road surfaces.