Potholes are a problem which can occur almost anywhere, particularly in late winter and early spring, when the road network has been subjected to freezing and thawing cycles. Deep potholes are the type of defect which require an urgent response, as they are a potential danger. We aim to have such deep potholes repaired or made safe within one working day, or five working days on minor rural roads.
Whenever possible, we carry out permanent repairs by cutting out the affected area around the pothole, sealing the sides of the hole, filling it with hot bitumen macadam and compacting the material with a roller or vibrating plate. This involves a considerable amount of equipment, so it is not always possible to be in the right place to carry out a full repair immediately on every urgent pothole. When this is not possible, we use cold material as an emergency measure and aim to go back to carry out a permanent repair in the near future, when the right gang are working in the area. Emergency repairs are not as effective as permanent ones and sometimes fail, so repeat visits are sometimes necessary.
In addition to repairing potholes, we carry out programmed patching work so that the road is prepared for surface dressing in the coming years. An inspector will walk the section of road and mark out the areas which are cracked, crazed and generally worn out and require attention with spray paint before the repair work starts on site. These sections are then cut out and carefully replaced with new material. Once a length of road has been thoroughly patched, it will probably be surface dressed within a couple of years.
CCC repairs from last year's winter damage
The severe weather experienced in the winter of 2010/11 caused major deterioration to the road network across the whole of England. In recognition of the coldest December for 100 years and that the condition of the road network is of key importance to all road users and local residents, the Department for Transport allocated £200M to local highway authorities in England of which Cumbria County Council was awarded £6.23M
In 2010/11 CCC spent £19.2M of its own budget on road maintenance. This was increased to £21.5M in 2011/12 and the £6.23M of DfT funding enabled Cumbria County Council to carry out additional repairs to the county's roads.
These repairs have included:
• Road resurfacing schemes in addition to the planned programme • An extensive structural patching programme to permanently repair potholes • An extensive programme of patching to enable more of the roads to be surface dressed next year.
The repairs cover approximately 180,000 m2 of the road network across the whole of the county. This is equivalent to over 30km of road or nearly 5 football pitches.
Cumbria has a long term strategy and commitment to invest in highway maintenance to meets the needs of its residents and both local and national economy and welcomed the DfT acknowledgement of the effect of the exceptional weather conditions on its roads.
Cllr Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member responsible for highways, said: "The severity of last year's winter, which followed on from the previous year's exceptionally harsh conditions, meant that local authorities everywhere faced higher than normal repair bills for the damaged road network.
"I am very pleased to see that the highways team have managed the repairs programme over the last few months to ensure that every penny that was allocated to help the highways network recover has been spent.
"We were all grateful for the Government's intervention, and believe that similar provisions should be made in the future if we remain in a cycle of harsh winter conditions."