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Consultation could help keep roads pothole-free for longer

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation that could lead to utility companies having to guarantee their road repairs for up to five years – three years more than they have to currently.

The consultation would mean that utility companies would need to guarantee road repairs for up to five years

The Specification for the reinstatement of openings in highways consultation will propose increasing the minimum guarantee from the current two years to up to five years, and will also introduce new asphalt standards, to keep roads pothole-free for longer.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.”

The proposals also allow for new innovative surfacing to be used, such as asphalt with a high bitumen content that is easier to compact to the required density. This makes it less prone to potholing.

The announcement comes after the Department for Transport revealed at the end of January that it’s investing £23m in trials of new road surface materials and pothole repair techniques that could put an end to the ubiquitous sight of potholes on UK roads.

The Government is also investing up to £10m in a new ‘Street Manager’ real-time digital service to help drivers avoid roadwork jams.

Commenting on the new consultation, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “This on the face of it is a very sensible and welcome idea. Utility company roadworks should not lead to an overall worsening of road surface quality. While lane rental is also a very positive step to ensuring utility company works don’t overrun, the quality of their work shouldn’t suffer so this guarantee should also prevent this happening.

“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.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.