They’ve been the bane of most drivers lives for at least a couple of years now – but could pot holes finally be banished?
That’s the government’s aim as earlier this year it announced a major round of funding to give local authorities a step up in helping tackle the pothole problem. It’s another milestone in what will no doubt be an ongoing operation in the road to recovery for a number of years to come, but it’s definitely one in the right direction, as it were.
So how much funding are we talking about? Well, the total figure announced by the Department of Transport is £100 million and which it’s reckoned will repair around two million potholes, caused by flooding on Britain’s roads. The money is also aimed at predicting and preventing future potential road damage by piloting a number of innovative technological advances, such as smartphone sensors, high-definition cameras and real-time updates for drivers.
Councils can also spend the cash on repairing storm damage caused by the severe winter weather (Devon County Council benefitted, for instance, after Storm Emma caused £2.5 million damage to the A379).
The £100 million is in addition to the £6 billion between 2015 to 2021 already promised to beleaguered local authorities. And that doesn’t take in to account the additional £2 million councils already have to spend fixing holes in local roads from their overall allocated annual budget.
Meanwhile, the government predict another seven million potholes will be filled in thanks to a total of £111 million already handed over and promised in the 2016 budget. Of this, councils received £75 million (via the Pothole Action Fund), while the remainder went to the highways authorities. In the same year The Local Government Association claimed it would take 14 years to clear the backlog of potholes- even if that means council’s filling in at least two million holes annually.
The most recent £100 million figure was a direct response to the particularly prolonged spell of frozen weather in the UK over the recent winter – the worst type for roads to cope with. That’s because of the fluctuating of temperatures where the road would freeze then warm up, causing water to seep down into the road surface itself. This then created gaps which, when they widen, eventually become a hole in the road.
Many local authorities consider a pothole to be at least 40mm deep (the size of two 20p coins put together).
Around £900,000 of the funding is to be spent on high definition cameras and related technology in vehicles which will be able to monitor the state of roads in order to identify which are in danger of being subjected to pothole damage. Blackpool Council and the City of York will both benefit first from the digital inspection scheme.
Smartphones are to be used in Swindon Borough Council. These will work with road sensors to alert the roads department to hazard areas. Essex Council is getting together with the commercial car company Daimler to examine data picked up by the vehicles.
Meanwhile, parking is to be made easier in the centre of London – at least in Westminster. That’s because the city council will use cameras to notify drivers of potential spaces via real-time updates.
Councils in the North East and the South West (Devon) received the most money for fixing roads, with both receiving more than £4 million, while Yorkshire and The Humber, Norfolk in the East of England and Kent in the South East all received more than £3 million.