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NEW YORK BLITZ ON POTHOLES IS ROLE MODEL FOR LONDON

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Londoners wary of what to expect from their new mayor may well look to New York for a role model, according to The ...
Londoners wary of what to expect from their new mayor may well look to New York for a role model, according to The Evening Standard.

The latest campaign by Rudy Giuliani will see him turning his attention to the state of the city's roads.

With around 12,000 digging operations carried out in London's 32 boroughs every year - one street was dug up 30 times in 12 months - frustrated Londoners will be looking to their American counterparts with envy, says the paper.

Mr Giuliani is promising 25,000 holes will be filled in during the next 11 weeks. The repair blitz is part of his on-going quality-of-life campaign, which has already seen modern-day scourges like squeegee-cleaners, shrieking car alarms and jay-walkers driven off the streets.

'We're going to fill them all in,' said Mr Giuliani, saying the potholes wreak havoc with cars and taxis and cause endless irritation to drivers. 'I think it's a wonderful thing to do.'

During the campaign, which has been dubbed the Kickin' Asphalt Campaign, department of transportation work crews who fill in pot-holes will be doubled or tripled.

They will target a different borough each day, going to sites identified by fed-up residents. The pot-hole blitz is an attempt to solve the problem before the first big freeze of winter arrives.

New York has been making an effort to plug pot-holes in the past year. Crews filled in 64,309 holes in 1997 and another 71,833 in 1998.

The mayor's 'accountability' report also showed that crews responded more rapidly to complaints last year, filling most within 30 days about 40 per cent of the time, compared to 28 per cent the year before.

New York authorities say better records are being kept to ensure that pot-holes which have been repaired are examined for maintenance afterwards. That should ensure craters in the road will remain filled in for at least three years.

Drivers, residents and others frustrated by the gaping holes in the city's roads can call a special number to report pot-holes. While there is some relief from hole-in-the-road misery for weary New Yorkers, Londoners face a more agonising wait.

The capital, after all, has no mayor to blitz the problem and no single strategic authority to coordinate and monitor repairs.

A spokesman for the British Road Federation said: 'London clearly needs a similar solution but the Greater London Authority and mayor, who could take the matter in hand, won't be up and running until spring.

'Dealing with holes in the road is currently a random and piecemeal operation and responsibility does not lie with one single agency.

'Main roads come under the authority of the Highways Agency and responsibility for minor ones lies with individual councils. Just how well they deal with it entirely depends on how good the local authority is.'

In the meantime, motorists, residents and pedestrians will have to make do with government plans for a new Internet system to centrally log details of road-digging operations.

A less sophisticated version of the system was introduced in 1991 but failed because of the huge amount of work being carried out.

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