Posted on: October 5, 2018

Why are there so many Potholes on UK Roads?

The UK’s most popular breakdown cover provider, the AA has declared the pothole situation in the UK as a national emergency.

This comes after a report published by Asphalt Industry Alliance confirming that more than 40,000 miles of the UK’s roads could become unusable by 2023. Reports have showed that this situation will continue to persist as long as the government does not allocate adequate funding to maintain a safe local road network.

Driving on UK roads have become every driver’s nightmare as the dreaded feeling of hitting a pothole or the concern of tyre or vehicle damage has heightened over the past few years. It is estimated that in 2016 alone, potholes caused £3.1 million worth of damage to vehicles in the UK. This was enough to spark campaigns and protests for key stakeholders to take actions to resolve the issue and demand pothole repairs.

While awaiting government interventions to fix the pothole problem, some companies have come up with innovative apps that a provide a temporary solution. Google’s traffic app, for instance, helps indicates alternative routes to help drivers avoid potholes or report potholes or other road issues.

In March, the government paid attention to the plea of drivers and road users and created a £100 million repair fund to fix the potholes in the country. Road experts will use any of the methods described below to get rid of the potholes and repair the local road network.

How potholes are repaired

There are several methods to fix potholes, some have temporary effect, others have long-lasting impact.

The spray-injection pothole repair method is done with a special vehicle which first blows compressed air to scatter any debris in the pothole and sprays a thick coat of binder or hot bitumen emulsion on the sides and bottom of the pothole. This seals the pothole and provides a bonding layer for a blast of asphalt and aggregate.

The semi-permanent pothole repair is similar to the one described above. The only difference is that clean cuts are made along the sides of the pothole after water and debris have been removed. The patch material is then placed inside the hole and a vibratory roller or plate is used to compact the patch.

A full-depth roadway pothole replacement is another method used to fix potholes. This is the most efficient and long-lasting way to repair potholes as it permanently gets rid of potholes and replace them with entirely new pavements.  The process involves rebuilding worn out asphalt with old asphalt. The old asphalt is crushed into powder, mixed with cement and water and compacted to form an asphalt base or a concrete surface.

In addition to these methods, the UK may have to consider other common road resurfacing methods to fix its local road network. Resurfacing is a road maintenance technique which involves spreading a new layer of asphalt on existing road surface. It is used when the subgrade of a road is in good condition but the upper layer is damaged.

When the hot-in-place road resurfacing method is used, the existing asphalt is removed and the new asphalt is heated, re-processed and applied to the road surface.

The Mill and Fill method is also used when the old asphalt has degraded to the extent that the crack have made their way below the road surface. The damaged asphalt is milled and removed and fresh asphalt is applied and compacted.

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