The Best from the East and from the other spells of bad weather, recently, has led to a huge increase in the number of potholes on Britain’s roads. Accordingly, the Government has created a £100 million repair fund, on top of previously announced initiatives, to help solve the problem.
But exactly how do you fix a hole? Well, a couple of years ago, our intrepid reporter, John Evans, went to find…
The struggle of the holes, Hampshire County Council
Just A few metres from the lively A31, the last weapon in the Hampshire County Council, the fight against potholes is at work.
A bright yellow truck with a hydraulically operated arm extends from a large container on the back, above the cabin and towards the street, slowly and noisily making their way along a lay-by, its driver searching for a hole.
When you find one, it stops the vehicle, and extends his trunk toward the hole, which blows the compressed air, the dispersion of the debris. A hot bitumen emulsion is then sprayed in and around the sides of the dry and pristine cavity. This seals the pothole and creates a bond for the layer of precisely targeted, high-speed explosion of aggregates and bitumen mix that follows.
At that point, the trunk releases a ‘pad coat’ of chips on the still tacky bitumen, followed by a final spray of dry aggregate. GPS and cameras to record the position and the state of the muffler and the data are transmitted to the council. The time spent from the beginning to the end? Three minutes.
Amey, the contractor, showing all of the Arc Roadmaster 295 to the council highways team, said 17 of these vehicles, at a cost of £175.000 dell’, are used throughout the country. Paul Anderson, Amey account manager, says that the repairs are good for at least three years.
“About 90% of the potholes are at the top of the ‘wear and tear’,” he says. “This machine allows us to obtain the most holes earlier in their life cycle, to prevent more serious damage.”
Hampshire County Council, Colin Taylor is hit. “Our road network has a real battering four years ago, and the number of holes is increased,” he says. “The last thing we want is a temporary repair that we have to correct. This is good for preventive maintenance. It is sturdy enough to stop the access of water into the hole that is the one that usually does damage and provides a sealed surface and a new friction surface, all with a single operator. If the operator sees other holes not previously reported, you can fix the problem.”
If it is Perth and Kinross Council’s controversial announcement in 2016 that it was increasing its “pothole intervention levels for repair” from the hole size of from 40 mm to 60 mm, (a spokesman said it would continue to repair dangerous holes, without delay), or Calderdale Council is boasting that it is repaired 2000 holes only in the month of April, the pits are a hot topic.
The muffler of the government for the repair plan
They have been since 2012, when the UNITED kingdom had its second wettest year on record. The streets are weakened from below by rising groundwater and from above by pneumatic force water into cracks, compressing the surface and break open. On top of that, service companies are constantly digging around in the streets, and their repair is not always up to standard.
The resulting holes (the 70% of the tips define a hole as a 40mm deep cavity of the road) can destroy tires, and crack the wheels. In 2016 the survey, 39% of AA members claimed their car was damaged by potholes. Of this number, 28% said a wheel, its tyre and the tracking car had been damaged. The survey found that members in Scotland were the most affected, followed by those in Yorkshire and Humberside.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), whose members provide road maintenance services to local authorities, has said that its annual survey of local councils revealed that a combination of bad weather, the increased levels of traffic and what it described as “decades of underfunding” were taking their toll on the roads of the country.
AIA president, Ian MacKenzie, said: “Local roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than what can be repaired, and the most significant problems for the future building invisible below the surface.” The local councils agreed. The Local Government Association (LGA) said to tackle what is called the “roads crisis” becomes more and more urgent, but the average highway maintenance the budget of every local authority had declined to 16%).
LGA transport spokesman Peter Box said: “Councils fixed a hole every 15 seconds last year, but remain trapped in a cycle that will only ever leave them able to patch up deteriorating roads.”
Following calls from local government for extra money for the repair of holes, a £250 million ‘hole action fund’ was announced in last year’s Budget, and other local agencies will receive a total of 50 pounds every year for the next five years to help pay for the repair of more than four million holes.
The average amount for each repair is $ 53. A Department for Transport spokesman couldn’t explain how the figure is broken but said that the average cost of repair was based on an AIA survey of local councils.
Colin Taylor believes that the cost is closer to £60, but, he says, that does not include compensation paid to drivers whose cars were damaged. “The tips that are insured can pay for minor claims of a certain level, but will have to pay the excess out of its own funds,” he says. “But Hampshire self-insures. This means that we are responsible for payment in full. We look at each claim, but whether we followed our policies and national guidelines, it will refuse”.
As the Arc Roadmaster 295 extends its proboscis into another pit, Hampshire, motorists will be hoping that fills and seals it for good, in a way that provides an extra spray of bitumen, just to be on the safe side.