With Britain’s pothole crisis arguably getting worse, the Department for Transport (DfT) is looking to take action on utility firms not fulfilling their part of the deal when repairing roads.

The government body has opened a consultation and will be looking into making companies more accountable for their work. The proposal could mean that firms would have to repair a road if a pothole formed within five years of the company carrying out the work in the first place.

The current guarantee hanging over the utility supplier’s roadworks is two years, so it could make a big difference to Britain’s roads by increasing the period to five years, as well as introducing new asphalt standards.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition.

“Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.”

Under the plans, firms would be allowed to use a new type of asphalt which makes roads less prone to potholing.

The DfT has also recently announced a research project looking into which emerging road innovations are least likely to cause potholes, as well as the best repair techniques, with one example being the use of plastic roads.

The RAC has said that the proposals are a “very sensible and welcome idea”.

The organisation’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyles said: “This on the face of it is a very sensible and welcome idea. Utility company roadworks should not lead to an overall worsening of road surface quality.

“The quality of road maintenance, whether that’s repairs or resurfacing, needs to come under closer scrutiny to guard against substandard workmanship. This way every pound spent on our roads would last longer and motorists would have far better surfaces to drive on.”

A pothole deficit has existed on Britain’s roads for some time, and even despite Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond promising £420m of extra funding for councils to repair damaged roads in October’s budget, it’s some way off the estimated £8bn needed to carry out a one-time fix of potholes in England. That’s according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, which represents those supplying the materials to fix the roads in the first place.

Ted Welford


March 6, 2019

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