Costs to build new roads in Hertfordshire could be around an additional £11m due to social distancing.

Hertfordshire County Council are looking to continue developments for new roads on the A120, A603 and at Essex Road in Hoddesdon.

But due to a “financial implication” due to current social distancing restrictions during developments, the costs for such developments is estimated to be an additional £11m from central government funding.

The additional £11m funding was part of the government’s increased funding for highways maintenance in England from £1bn to £1.5bn.

Cllr Phil Bibby, executive member for highways and environment, said: “At the start of the Covid-19 crisis, Central Government asked local authorities to continue construction work in order to mitigate some of the economic impact of lockdown.

“As a county council, we agreed that this was important and so have continued with our major projects on the A120, A602 and at Essex Road in Hoddesdon.

“Clearly, there is a financial implication associated with working in a way that ensures social distancing requirements are met and, at the time, Central Government committed to covering additional costs local authorities incurred during this period.

“However, we are still awaiting confirmation that the specific costs associated with major project construction will be met by Government.

“The County Council has made an initial estimate that, if social distancing continues for the duration of these three contracts, it will cost an additional £11m.

“As a prudent local authority, we need to ensure that we are able to fund this until such time as Government confirm they will cover it. However, over the next few months, we will be reviewing the estimate and releasing funding to support our highway works programme, as it is prudent to do so.”

The Liberal Democrats at County Hall slammed the decision to spend the £11m on new roads opposed to general highways and footways repairs, despite the council having over £300m in contingency funds for the major schemes.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, says that more needed to be done on highway and footway maintenance and to spend the money on the new roads is “an insult to ministers” who lobbied for the additional government funding.

He said: "This money should be used to improve uneven and unsafe footways, cut back overgrown paths and cycleways and improve maintenance on our side streets.

“This was the government's intention. The County council has millions in reserves that it could use to support any extra road building costs - instead, it is saving it for its election year.

“By all means, ask the government to meet increased costs but we must put our residents first and not new roads. As usual, the Conservatives have got their priorities wrong in the green agenda."