Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has identified potholes as “the number one enemy for road users” and has pledged to provide £22.9 million for research into new repair techniques.
The government will work with eight local authorities to carry out real-world tests of new road surfaces and technologies, with the aim of identifying a ‘prevention rather than cure’ approach to pothole repair.
Around £1.6 million will be spent on the extension of Cumbria’s existing trial of the use of plastic roads. The local authority was the first in England to incorporate plastic-based material from recycled waste into the asphalt used for resurfacing.
The equivalent of 500,000 plastic bottles and more than 800,000 one-use plastic carrier bags have been used to resurface sections of the A7 in Carlisle.
Other projects include a trial of adapting lighting columns for use as charging points or wi-fi hubs in Suffolk, using kinetic energy to charge roadside battery units in Buckinghamshire, and the use of geothermal energy to prevent footways, car parks and bus stations from freezing over in Central Bedfordshire.
‘Number one enemy’
Chris Grayling said: “Potholes are the number one enemy for road users and this government is looking at numerous ways to keep our roads in the best condition.
“Today’s trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”
In October 2018, the government made a £420 million pledge to repair Britain’s broken roads, but the problem will only get worse.
Professor Nicholas Thom, a UK pothole expert, warned that our roads are facing a perfect storm of misery.
“The number of potholes per kilometre on a given authority’s roads depends not only on the repair budget, repair strategy and the climate – frosts are bad news – but also on a historical policy choice, namely what surfacing materials to use. It is a choice that badly needs to be reviewed.”