An innovative approach to pothole perils

Alex Wright, General Manager of Tarmac’s packed highways products division

Recent wintry weather has brought the condition of the local network to the fore and with it, the sentiment of people and businesses towards potholes.

To truly tackle this perennial issue, a preventative maintenance and asset management approach is best to proactively target the most at-risk areas and stop them from fully forming.

This is a solution that Tarmac, through our Contracting team, works alongside local authorities to deliver. However, the reality for most highways teams is that a preventative approach can be very challenging, when road budgets – which are not ringfenced – are under so much pressure.

Ultimately, it is very difficult for local authorities to make up the shortfall between what they are given to maintain roads, and what they need. The UK’s pothole problems are also not a short-term consequence of bad winters; they are a result of years of under investment.

There are a number of tell-tale warning signs that could signify a pothole is at risk of forming. The first, and most obvious, is fretting; where the road surface starts to loosen off. Another could be legacy repairs and utilities works.

A pothole repair – which usually involves cutting out a square of the affected road section – has four joints; if not properly undertaken, then those four joints represent four opportunities for water ingress, which ultimately can undermine the whole repair.

Traditionally there have been two repair options – the first a tubbed or bagged product, which may be sufficient for small repairs, but can prove challenging for potholes over a certain size; and the second being hot-mixed asphalt. The latter is traditionally sourced from a dedicated asphalt plant and transported to site in bulk. While it is a fully-effective solution, it is not particularly fast to source or apply.

Tarmac’s innovative Ultipatch Sitemix solution combines the best of both worlds. Making use of a mobile asphalt production unit, it enables highways contractors to create the exact amount of fresh asphalt needed for each repair onsite, without having to undertake asphalt plant collections. This can save precious time as the product is at its most workable when fresh, and also minimise product wastage.

Learn more about Ultipatch Sitemix