UK Department for Transport wants longer-lasting repairs to prevent potholes


The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a new consultation on plans that proposes increasing the guarantee on utility firms’ roadworks and introducing new asphalt standards, to keep the country’s roads pothole-free for longer.

If the proposals are implemented, after roadworks have been completed, utility companies could be better held to account for poor repairs that cause potholes or dangerous road and pavement surfaces. The DfT has launched a consultation on increasing the guarantee on utility firms’ roadworks, so that if a pothole forms as a result within five years, the company must return to bring the road surface back to normal.

The DfT is seeking views on a new edition of the ‘Specification for the reinstatement of openings in highways’ (SROH), which is the statutory code of practice that sets out the standards that utility companies must adhere to when reinstating roads on completion of street works.

The SROH was last updated in April 2010, and since then, issues have arisen over interpretation of its requirements and many new innovations in reinstatement techniques and materials have been introduced. The new edition aims to address these issues and bring the document up to date.

It also permits the use of new materials that make it easier to comply with the code’s requirements and help ensure reinstatements are right first time. The SROH consultation will propose increasing the minimum guarantee from the current two years to up to five years, and will also introduce new asphalt standards, to keep roads pothole-free for longer.

The proposals also allow for new innovative surfacing to be used, such as asphalt with a high bitumen content that is easier to compact to the required density, making it less prone to potholing.
The new consultation, which will last eight weeks, follows a number of other interventions by the government to help improve road surfaces:

  • In January, the DfT announced real-world tests of new road surfaces and technologies in eight areas to see which emerging innovations provide long-term solutions to improve journeys. The £22.9m (US$30m) Live Labs projects will be delivered by councils and if successful, could be adopted by other authorities;
  • Last February, the DfT announced councils across England could introduce Lane Rental schemes, where utility companies are charged up to £2,500 (US$3,280) a day to dig up busy roads, to reduce the duration of roadworks and speed up traffic;
  • The government is also investing up to £10m (US$13m) in the new Street Manager digital service that should enable motorists to plan their journeys better, so they can avoid roadworks.

“Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition,” explained UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, launching the initiative. “Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.