Mystery of Ripon's wonky roads finally solved after 20 years

The 20-year mystery of why the roads around Ripon’s market place are uneven and blighted with potholes has been solved — they were made with sand.

At a full meeting of Ripon City Council council leader Andrew Williams gave an update about a £630,000 resurfacing programme that is set to take place next year to finally improve the city centre roads Market Place East and Market Place West for good.

Coun Williams said that North Yorkshire Council engineers recently undertook drilling underneath the roads in an attempt to understand why they are regularly in such a poor condition, often not long after they have been resurfaced.

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The council has previously carried out temporary repairs on the road which has included putting in sets of paving blocks and tarmac. Underneath a road is what is called a sub base, which is usually an aggregate mix that forms a load bearing layer underneath the tarmac.

Ripon has had wonky roads for more than 20 yearsRipon has had wonky roads for more than 20 years
Ripon has had wonky roads for more than 20 years

But the engineers were surprised to discover that the sub base of the road was made with sand.

Coun Williams said that when it rains, water has been filtering through the surface of the road and into the sand, which is then not able to properly support the weight of the road leaving it uneven.

He added: “At least we know why why for 20 years the sets (of paving blocks) have never worked.”

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The council is set to close the roads for two days before the end of this year so engineers can undertake more drilling. The closure will take place between a Monday and Wednesday to reduce the impact on businesses.

Coun Williams said he hopes there will be a “pristine road surface” around the market square next year if North Yorkshire Council approves funds for the resurfacing programme at a meeting this week.

He said: “We’ve finally got to the very bottom of the problem of the uneven surface around the market place. It will be safer too so people can cross the road without breaking their neck on one of many potholes that currently exist.”

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