Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

Build UK pot holed roads right first time

BRIT149 - 1st April 2011

With roads across England and Wales facing a £10.65 billion bill to repair them to a reasonable condition, Britpave, the transport infrastructure group, asks that surely it would be better to build roads that are able to withstand the winter in the first place?

The latest local authority road maintenance (ALARM) survey of the road network has found a marked deterioration over the last year. Over 2 million potholes had to be filled in, an increase of 59% over the previous year, following a series of cold snaps.

Despite the recent Budget announcement of £100 million extra funding to repair potholes, local authorities continue to report a significant shortfall in the highway maintenance budget received from government. This means that they do not have adequate funding to carry out long-term preventative maintenance and are forced to do expensive reactive patch-and mend.

“It is a ‘Catch 22’ situation,” said David Jones, director of Britpave. “Local authorities have to spend their budgets on emergency repairs of road for which there is inadequate funding to maintain correctly in the first place. It is a vicious and expensive circle. However, there is a solution. Build the roads right first time.”

Jones points out that greater consideration should be given to building concrete roads which offer increased long-term performance without the need for regular maintenance. “Asphalt roads are far more susceptible to potholes than concrete roads which due to new surfacing techniques offer a quiet and long-term road solution,” said Jones. “Not only are concrete roads resilient to harsh winter conditions but, unlike asphalt, they don’t melt in the summer either.”

Historically, asphalt roads have been specified because they were perceived to be cheaper. “However, with the continued rise the price of oil, concrete roads now cost the same as asphalt whilst offering unmatched long-term performance and whole life cost benefits”, explained Jones. “The cost of the 2010 winter pothole damage is £362 million, adding to the £400 million cost of the previous year’s winter damage, and this does not even scratch the billions required to bring the road network up to standard. Concrete roads offer a viable and real long-term solution that is resilient to extreme weather conditions.”