A MAJOR £3.5 million roads overhaul is about to kick off in Worcestershire - repairing 200 different routes across the county.

A three-month long surface dressing project is to launch by the end of next week, covering around 1.2 million square metres of the network with new chippings by the end of July.

The spend is the single biggest amount of cash Worcestershire County Council has ever splashed out on roads in one fell swoop, and is £500,000 more than what was earmarked towards it last year.

Surface dressing is believed to prolong the life of a road by up to a decade by preventing water from getting underneath it and freezing, reducing potholes.

But it has proved controversial in the past - in June last year loose stone chippings from surface dressing at The Tything in Worcester led to huge plumes of dust gathering across buildings, infuriating traders.

The council is using different batches of chippings now and insists it does not expect any repeats.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: "The whole of the county will benefit from it and weather permitting, we expect to start by the end of next week.

"I know there's members of the public who don't like loose chippings but we've become much better at sweeping them up.

"Surface dressing is a very cheap way of water proofing the roads which is very important as potholes are caused by water getting in and freezing or expanding.

"We looked at North Yorkshire (council) because they do a lot of this, and found there's a clear correlation between surface dressing and not getting potholes, and they don't get the best climate there.

"It means we don't have to go back."

Last year the council spent £3 million tending to one million square miles of road, a spend credited with reducing the number of pothole defects appearing over the winter.

Whenever a road gets surface dressing, drivers can go over it immediately, but it takes several days to settle down completely.

Over the winter 6,400 road defects needed repair, with £700,000 channelled into the work.

During the previous winter it topped 27,000, although the weather was much colder and wetter.

Only last month your Worcester News revealed how public satisfaction with Worcestershire’s roads has slumped to just 31 per cent, compared to 42 per cent in 2011.

The council said it came despite record investment resulting in fewer defects than ever before.

The main factors people cited as factors were potholes, road markings, road signs, poor quality repairs and surfacing.

More than 2,200 people took part in the survey, with a cross section of households asked for their views.

* Next week your Worcester News will reveal a list of routes set to benefit.