Government: Roadworks should be guaranteed against potholes for five years

Published 08 March 2019

Utility firms that dig up UK roads could be forced to guarantee their repairs for five years under new Government proposals announced this week.

Current Department for Transport (DfT) code of practice states that firms must guarantee all repairs for two years after roadworks. This could be increased to five years if proposals - put forward by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling - are given the green light.

>>> Drivers more than twice as likely to breakdown due to hitting a pothole

"Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this Government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition," said Grayling. "Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer."

The eight-week consultation comes after an additional £420 million for road maintenance was announced in the Budget in November.

"The quality of road maintenance, whether that’s repairs or resurfacing, needs to come under closer scrutiny to guard against substandard workmanship."

In an attempt to reduce congestion, the DfT gave local councils the power to charge utility companies up to £2500 a day for digging up roads at peak times.

The latest proposals have been welcomed by motoring organisations, with the RAC dubbing them 'a very sensible and welcome idea'.

"Utility company roadworks should not lead to an overall worsening of road surface quality," said the RAC's head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes.

“The next logical step that could make a far greater difference to the standard of the country’s local road network is to ensure all road contractors working for local authorities have to provide the same guarantee.

"The quality of road maintenance, whether that’s repairs or resurfacing, needs to come under closer scrutiny to guard against substandard workmanship. This way every pound spent on our roads would last longer and motorists would have far better surfaces to drive on.”

As well as introducing a longer guarantee for road repairs, the DfT is also proposing that a new innovative surface should be used, such as asphalt with a high bitumen content. This is easier to compact to the required density, making it less prone to potholing.


Engineer Andy    on 8 March 2019

It's about time this was done. How many of us can remember a road that has just been completely resurfaced by the council gets dug up by a utility firm just a few weeks later for planned works, then the poor quality patch work lasts about 10x less than the rest of the road and us taxpayers have to pay for the (many) repairs.

   on 9 March 2019

VIrgin media are using largely Eastern European sub contractors to blitz laying fibre to households in Llanelli.
Witnessed several highway crossings of 30 mph main road where the trench was only 30 cm deep in places ,meaning a depth of cover of less than 20cm in places I.e. over the plastic duct (should be 60cm minimum).The old spoil was reused and not replaced with new all in one and the tarmac reinstatement hastily and poorly done..
The contractors used non legal all road works guarding putting employees pedestrians and drivers at risk I believe the Local council finally cracked down on this.But shows they are cowboys.
The point is I know what I'm talking about and this shoddy work all over this one town alone will mean the tarmac sinks and will eventually break up ,leading to potholes.THe taxpayer is on the hook for fixing this in years to come
Well done VIrgin Media.

Diggerssenior    on 11 March 2019

It's appalling that the quality of workmanship of contractors isn't prescribed in the contract with the government body.

It's not rocket science and I'm not surprised soany contractors want to deal with our government bodies.

Rip off and blank cheque come to mind

Gordon Sewell    on 11 March 2019

The overall quality of repairs and resurfacing is appalling, the tarmac is either laid to hot or cold leading to poor adhesion. If the surface after laying is shining they have laid it to hot and the bitumen rises to the top ,resulting in poor ahesision , conversely if is to cold the chippings don't bind and the suface appears dull and the chippings can be clearly seen allowing water to pool and then frost takes hold and the surface breaks away.
Quality control is sorely missing and I have yet to see
Any body check tarmac for temperature or a slump for consistency.

GSh    on 11 March 2019

I recently watched some workmen filling a pothole. All they did was get a bag of tarmac out of a van, tip it into the hole, then level it off with their boot. They then left the tarmac to be flattened and compressed by passing traffic.

Another thing. They used to seal around a trench with, I believe, bitumen, they don't do this any more. Surely this prevented moisture from seeping in?

TedTom    on 12 March 2019

That's what my local council contractors do. Outside my house they have filled holes five times in the last two years. The contractors are on a nice little earner.

pODMM    on 12 March 2019

Some local councils do not accept or limit the amount of edge sealer that can be allowed. This is because they say too much overbanding(to give it its proper name) makes the top face of the trench very smooth and therefore slippy.

   on 12 March 2019

When correctly done all the spoil from the hole or trench created by the roadworks is removed from site and not reused The duct,cable or pipe work laid at the bottom may sit on a sand bed but the main hole is filled with all in new one mix in layers each tamped down with pneumatic tamper ending at a suitable height usually just below the tarmac bottom layer..
Hot tarmac is added on top and tamped down to say a few inches below the road surface ,The sides are painted with bonding fluid to soften the existing tarmac wall and allow the new tarmac reinstatement to bond .Then the final surface layer of hot tarmac applied to a level proud of the road surface and rolled smooth properly ,an experienced civil contractor knows how much to use and how to get a good finish.
If the ground can be left a day or two to settle between filling and tarmac reinstatement all the better.
You will however rarely if ever see this done properly in the real world most utilities subcontract and no longer directly supervise contractors.Some are better than others however.

Marcus T.    on 13 March 2019

Five years guarantee?. Five months at present, if your lucky. On my commute a stretch of road was completely dug up and new tarmac laid.They did quite a good job. Unfortunately within a year the Gas company dug the road up and now it's like the surface of the moon. Out our way they usually just lay a load of chippngs on hot tar, leaving huge waves and mounds of loose chippings which last time broke my windscreen. It took over two years to get the potholes filled in my road, and within six months they had reappeared. The one outside my house, I did myself and it still looks good after five years.

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