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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Bad weather causes pothole reports to double for Nottinghamshire roads

Nottinghamshire County Council has said that reports of potholes almost doubled between December 7th and January 7th after a prolonged spell of bad weather.

Tfollows freezing temperatures in December and recent heavy rainfall causing damage to the surface of the county’s highways.

Winter is typically the worst period for road damage as cold temperatures cause surfaces to become more brittle.

The council says the sub-zero temperatures in December, salt used to grit roads and recent heavy rainfall caused the spike in pothole reports, says the West Bridgford Wire.

It follows the authority recently reporting drastically-improved statistics on the state of the county’s roads.

It came after a cross-party review conducted in 2021 found the council should move away from its temporary asphalt repair method.

The new focus is on more permanent road replacement schemes and to shift towards a “right repair, right-first-time” approach.

Data published last month showed the number of ‘patching gangs’ doubled from four to eight in a £15m investment last April.

These are the teams at Via East Midlands, the council’s highways contractor, who conduct permanent road replacement projects on behalf of the authority.

The council’s figures also showed the length of roads patched per day more than doubled from 46.9 daily square metres to 96.5 following the review.

And Councillor Ben Bradley (Con), the council’s leader and Mansfield’s MP, says the programme was “going really well” until recent weather conditions.

He said: “Frustratingly, our roads programme was going really well until the weather hit and ripped chunks out of the roads,” he said.

“The feedback and the data had been excellent, and we will get back to that once we’ve finished firefighting the damage caused over the past couple of weeks.

“The roads are bad at the minute and, unfortunately, I can’t control the weather or the quality of work done long before I was here.

“But the key point I’ve been making is that we have put the investment in, teams are working 24/7 trying to tackle it and keep up with it, and this genuinely is a national issue.

“We’re not unique – one in three roads across the country need resurfacing nationally so we’re all in the same boat.”

The issue was discussed during the authority’s place select committee on Wednesday (January 11).

In the meeting, Cllr Penny Gowland (Lab), who represents West Bridgford North, said: “I’ve been astonished by the effects of the review of the highways, it has been very positive.

“I think the only question we should be asking as a council is how we got into the mess before. I guess it comes down to resources.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Neil Clarke (Con), portfolio holder for transport and environment, said: “Wintry conditions always take their toll on highways across Nottinghamshire. I would like to reassure our residents that we are not alone as an authority in experiencing this.

“We ask residents and road users to bear with us; they will likely see an increase in emergency repairs as we keep roads safe through the winter until larger-scale permanent repairs can be made.

Elsewhere, West Sussex County Council has reported it has filled 25,500 in nine months. Despite severe weather leads to new influx of pothole reports.

Following continued hard work and investment in improving the county’s highway network, approximately 25,500 potholes needed filling for safety reasons from April to December, 2022, compared to 30,000 for the same period in 2021. However, in the first 11 days of January 2023, our highways teams have received 2,500 pothole/carriageway-related enquiries from the public. For context, the total for the whole of January 2022 was 1,400 enquiries.

Matt Davey, the County Council’s Assistant Director, Highways, Transport and Planning, said: “We are aware of the fresh influx of pothole concerns, sparked by severe weather and temperature changes, and will do all we can to repair those that need filling for safety reasons as soon as possible.

“In November and December, 2022, our Highways teams received our second-highest number of pothole reports on record. Unfortunately, roads are not permanent structures: they deteriorate over time from constant use, the weight of vehicles using them and the effects of weather, resulting in new potholes.

“Older roads, potentially with small cracks, can be impacted by changes in temperature. West Sussex has experienced one of the hottest summers, then mild/wet weather, then the very cold snap from 6 to 15 December, followed by mild and very wet again, sometimes with flood conditions. These fluctuations, with torrential/persistent rain, combine to cause road surfaces to expand/contract and expand again, potentially causing further cracks and new potholes to form.

“We totally understand that potholes are a big source of frustration for all road users and we will investigate people’s concerns so we can prioritise repairing those which meet the safety criteria as quickly as possible.”

The County Council is responsible for maintaining around 2,500 miles of road: A and B roads are ordinarily inspected monthly, C-class and main distributor roads on a three or six-monthly basis and declassified roads are typically inspected annually. But our Highways teams cannot be everywhere at once, and so need residents to tell them if they are concerned about a pothole.

“The best way for residents to bring potholes to our Highways staff’s attention is directly, please – via our new, online, e-form. There’s no longer the necessity to download an app, the online maps are easier to use, with greater levels of detail so Highways staff can more easily locate and investigate issues. We have also revised and improved our updates so that the information residents receive about their report is more frequent and detailed.

“To report a pothole, residents are asked to please go to the County Council’s website, select “roads and travel” and “report a pothole online” – where they can read more information on what pothole sizes we prioritise – then click on report a pothole online

“Residents who historically reported via Love West Sussex are being redirected to the correct online form for the issue they want to report. People who have bookmarked or saved the Love West Sussex web online URL and/or App to their device are asked to please delete and save: Report a problem with a road or pavement

“Residents now also have the opportunity to view existing/open reports, pin-pointed on the map, and subscribe to updates by simply entering their email address, saving time on duplicate reports being submitted.”

“We are also taking a holistic approach to the condition of roads, with larger sections completely resurfaced on a priority basis, to make them more resilient to potholes, and vastly reduce the need for essential, small-scale repairs, which can cause disruption. Other forms of treatment, such as surface dressing and micro-asphalt, are also used to prolong the lifespan of suitable roads.

From April to the end of December 2022, 145km of road were either completely resurfaced or had surface dressing or micro-asphalt treatments – representing a total investment of £8.1million in road surface improvements county-wide.

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