Last month, the Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation proposing that gas, electricity and communications firms must fix potholes which form within five years of work that requires breaking and repairing a road. This would be an increase to the current two-year guarantee.
It comes amid growing concerns about the deteriorating state of local roads. Research released this week from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) reveals that the number of potholes filled in over the last year jumped by a quarter, from 1.5 million in 2018 to 1.86 million so far in 20191. Utilities openings in England and Wales are also up nearly 10% over the same period to more than 2 million.
The DfT hopes the new standards will push contractors, working on behalf of utilities firms, to use better quality asphalt materials – a move Aggregate Industries says will be crucial to extending the current lifetime of road repairs.
According to the leading construction materials supplier, this includes making use of the latest advances in asphalt such as SuperCurve, a high performance 10mm polymer modified asphalt, which has been specifically designed and engineered to provide an enhanced surface course for higher stressed areas.
Chris Hudson, Managing Director of Asphalt and Readymix at Aggregate Industries, comments: “With cash-strapped local authorities spending an average of £1.1m – or 8% - of their annual road maintenance budgets on addressing premature maintenance arising from utilities openings2, it’s encouraging to see the government looking at ways to reduce this cost-burden by raising road repair standards.
“Opening a road to create a trench can reduce its structural life by up to 30%3, and with so the advice to contractors and utilities firms is to adopt toughened asphalt solutions early on as this will be key to guaranteeing that roads remain pothole-free for longer.”
In line with recommendations made by the AIA, Aggregate Industries is also calling on the government to create a more robust investment strategy for maintaining the long-term condition of local roads through regularly resurfacing programmes, which it says is the best way to prevent potholes from forming.
Chris adds: “Potholes are symptomatic of poorly maintained roads and potential underlying structural issues. All councils have seen a significant decrease in road surfacing frequency in recent years to once every 67 years when ideally they should be resurfaced between 10-20 years4.
“Rather than having a reactive programme of providing local authorities with last-minute funding to patch up potholes after bouts of bad weather, what we as an industry really need is a long-term funding framework. Crucially, this will allow councils to implement a full resurfacing programme, which will go a long way in preventing potholes from forming in the first place.”