Motorists should brace themselves for up to two months’ worth of commuter misery, as a decade of reliance on cheap and brittle road repair materials finally takes its toll, warns Warranty Direct’s campaign website,Potholes.co.uk.
After the UK experienced more than a foot of rainfall in November and December*, with snow following in the past week, motorists will face increased journey times to work as councils and highways authorities close lanes for repairs and average speeds drop as drivers slow to avoid pockmarked roads.
Last week, the M32 near Bristol was partially closed when one lane needed emergency repair work for potholes that appeared ‘overnight’**. Meanwhile, a half-mile section of the M6 motorway will have two lanes closed at Garstang next week for pothole repairs***.
Potholes.co.uk says the relaying of cheap materials – brittle, porous Stone Mastic Asphalt as opposed to the more hard-wearing Hot Rolled Asphalt – to surface and fix roads over the last 10-15 years is now leaving Britain gridlocked.
Data taken from 10,000 pothole reports on Potholes.co.uk reveals that, not only are the craters appearing on the UK’s crumbling network deeper than ever before, increasing in depth from three to four inches on average in the last two years, but that the problem is not limited to smaller, rural roads.
The Local Government Association revealed that the Department for Transport will reduce budgets for councils by £442m over the five years of the Comprehensive Spending Review, leaving authorities £164m worse off by 2014/15****.
Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, said: “The pothole epidemic is the direct result of years of under-investment in our roads by the Government. Temporary fixes have just escalated the problem over the years and our highways have now got more holes than Swiss cheese.
“Unless more permanent repair materials and methods are adopted immediately, Britain may never again be able to get through a winter without having to contend with a Third World road network.”
Potholes are created when moisture seeps into cracks in the street surface and freezes, cracking open the road when it freezes and expands. Last year was the second-wettest since records began in 1910, with an average of 1330.7mm falling on the UK*; combined with the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures of the last week, UK weather has created the ‘perfect pothole storm’, destined to tear apart the second-rate Stone Mastic Asphalt now used as standard for road repairs.
Potholes.co.uk, set up in 2007 by Warranty Direct, has seen a sharp spike in the number of visitors reporting road defects as a result – since the start of December 2012, the number of motorists complaining on the site has more than doubled compared with the same period a year earlier.