In order to deal with potholes, local authorities need to adhere to recognised industry best practice, be open to innovation and specify the best not the cheapest solution.
These measures have been called for by the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) responding to the Department for Transport’s pothole review being undertaken under the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP).
The review follows the devastating impact of three successive severe winters upon the road network which resulted in a total of 2.7 million potholes in 2010 and widespread public annoyance and criticism.
The review proposes a full examination of why potholes occur and the development and provision of guidance on how to avoid or repair them. The report is due to be published in April 2012.
“Local authorities can achieve much with forward planning rather than retrospective repair”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive.
“Those local authorities who carry out planned road surface dressing and maintenance find that their roads do not suffer from potholes and do not need premature repair.
“The review needs to examine inconsistencies, for example why do many local authorities undertaken comprehensive preventative maintenance while others do not, and to consider the barriers towards accepting product innovation and best practice guidance on how to obtain best value.”
A particular area that needs addressing is that of workforce skills. Contractor operatives undertaking road surface maintenance should be fully trained and qualified to ensure that they apply correct work practices. Operatives must have minimum NVQs and CSCS skill cards proving competencies and knowledge.
“The review should encourage the sharing of best practice between local authorities and ultimately produce a code of practice for pothole prevention and repair that is endorsed by all stakeholders”, said Robinson.
“We look forward to working with the Department for Transport, ADEPT and other industry stakeholder groups in forwarding best practice that can result in cost savings, minimised disruption, introduction of new techniques and enhanced service life of road surfaces and road repairs.”