Government vows to get tough on potholes

6 Mar 19

Utility firms that leave roads susceptible to potholes could be given further responsibilities to fix them, the transport secretary has said.

Chris Grayling today launched a consultation on extending the period of guarantee that utility firms are obliged to adhere to when they carry out road works.

Firms that dig up roads for maintenance work are required to return the road surface to normal, but they are often left in a worse state and more likely to develop potholes.

If road surfaces worsen within two years of the day work was carried out, firms must make necessary repairs. However, the Department of Transport is proposing extending this period five years.

The DfT today began an eight week consultation on whether to change guarantee period and introduce new standards for the material used in repairs.

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.”

Different materials such as asphalt with high bitumen levels, which are more resistant to erosion, will be considered.

The consultation document said that these materials “may be slightly more expensive than the currently specified materials but we consider it is justified when balanced against the ability to reliably meet compaction targets and thus avoid returning to site for remedial works”.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Potholes are the bane of road users lives. Utility companies might have to break the road, but they should be held to account for repairing it properly; and that means being open to the use of new materials and techniques.

“We would like to see the utility regulators taking an interest, given the economic harm we suffer from repeated road works and the responsibility utility companies should bear for the quality of their workmanship.

“A five year guarantee might cause the utility companies to sit up and take notice, but only if they believe local highway authorities will have the resource to monitor the state of repairs up to five years after they have been done.”

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