THE director of highways estimates his division spends about 10 per cent more on maintaining the TT course than other main roads.
But he defended the extra spending, pointing out that the Mountain Road was a vital arterial road as well as it being a race circuit.
Richard Pearson was speaking as the A18 between Barrule Park, Ramsey and the Creg-ny-Baa Back Road was closed to traffic for much of the week for maintenance ahead of the Manx Grand Prix.
He explained that the majority of the work was preventative maintenance involving drainage improvements.
‘We are making some considerable efforts to clean out ditches, jet and clear culverts and improve soak aways,’ he said. ‘People may have observed that during the recent heavy rains there was considerable surface water flow on the highway in places. Given the nature of the mountain I do not think we can expect to resolve this completely, but the current work should improve matters significantly. Good drainage is important to protect highways from settlement, frost action and washout. This is preventative maintenance.’
At the same time, highway crews are attending to cats eyes, verge masters (the reflectorised plastic marker posts) and are also carrying out some patching to the road surface, particularly at Ramsey Hairpin.
Mr Pearson added: ‘While the current closure is for basic highway maintenance purposes the course contractor is taking advantage of the current closures to put out some of the race equipment such as the Recticell and crash cushions.’
The highways director said the department did not keep records of spending per mile per specific road.
But he added: ‘I think we do spend a little more on the TT circuit to keep it fit for racing, I would estimate perhaps 10 per cent more than other primary roads.
‘The TT circuit is obviously vital for racing, but it is also a very important part of the primary network as it connects the north with the south and the east with the west so I am not apologetic about the work we do as the route is a vital one for general traffic, as well as supporting the viability for the island’s premier event.’
He said the highways division did not have a specific policy on how much spending was allocated to TT course maintenance compared with other parts of the network. He said the process for all roads was to inspect, follow up public complaints and respond within the budget available – the only difference with the race circuits being that they were subject to joint inspections prior to races with the clerk of the course.