How are potholes made
Potholes and road defects are made by water getting into the surface of the road through cracks usually caused by traffic. When temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands, causing the surface to break up. When the ice melts it leaves a space below the surface, which collapses under the weight of traffic and eventually forms a pothole.
How do you decide which potholes to fix first?
Safety is always the priority. We find defects during our routine inspections and they are reported to us by the public. Our maintenance officers inspect each defect and prioritise them based on the risk they pose to road users. Defects on the roads fall into one of these categories:
- Critical defects are made safe within 2 hours – these are situations where the risk to safety is high. We will sometimes do a temporary repair to make the road safe and make permanent repairs later.
- Safety defects on higher risk roads are made safe or repaired by the end of the next working day. These defects often pose an imminent risk of injury to road users or damage to vehicles.
- Safety defects on lower risk roads are made safe or repaired within 5 working days.
- Maintenance defects are treated within 3 months to prevent them deteriorating into a safety defect. If a maintenance defect is on a higher risk road, then we will treat it within one month.
- Programmed repairs (such as permanent patching) are scheduled into our local works programmes to prevent defects from deteriorating.
What is the difference between a temporary and a permanent repair?
For a typical permanent repair we cut out a rectangular area of the road around the pothole with a diamond bladed saw to make clean, flush sides. We clean out the hole is and paint it with liquid bituminous binder. We then fill the hole with a hot bitumen-bound material, rake it and finally compact it with machinery.
A temporary repair is a short term measure to make the road safe. This involves using a deferred-set cold material to fill the hole until we can carry out the permanent repair.
Are temporary repairs a false economy?
Emergency repairs may well be temporary until we can carry out a permanent repair, but this is not a false economy. The important thing is to make the road safe for users until the permanent repair can be made.
How long does it take to fix a pothole?
This depends on the size and nature of the pothole or defect.
Will you have to close any roads while you carry out pothole repairs?
We try wherever possible not to close the road, and carry out repairs using temporary traffic controls (for example Stop/Go boards). However, it's inevitable that pothole repairs will sometimes mean closing a road while the work is done.
Some narrower rural roads with higher speed limits may need to be closed while we do repairs, to keep the workforce and road users safe.
If the road is narrow, or the work is on a bend, we need to close the road for the safety of workers, road users and pedestrians.
When a road is closed, we will try to keep disruption to a minimum and open the road during peak travelling hours.
Road closures are less likely on urban roads where speed limits are 30mph or below, and where we can complete the work by sectioning off an area of the road.
Is pothole patching just a quick fix? What about the long term?
In emergency situations we will do a quick repair, followed by a permanent repair depending on the circumstances.
Can't you just resurface all the roads and prevent potholes forming at all?
It would be impossible to eliminate potholes, as they appear randomly all the time. Potholes will continue to develop as roads get older and these will be repaired as part of our normal maintenance programme.
The only way to cut down on new defects is more complete resurfacing. We have 1,700 kilometres of roads and resurfacing costs approximately £50,000+ per kilometre (depending on the type and location of the road). This is an unaffordable option for taxpayers without much more funding from central Government to maintain our roads.
How much does it cost to fix one pothole?
On average around £30 but it depends on size and quantity.
How do you know where the worst ones are?
We inspect all our roads for safety defects. The frequency of these inspections depends on a number of factors, such as how much the road is used. Of course it is possible for pothole defects to occur between inspections - reports from the public are very helpful so that we can prioritise these and deal with the defects.
How do I report a pothole? Will you come and fix it?
The most efficient way for residents to report a pothole or road defect to Conwy County Borough Council is via our online form here. These reports go directly to the area team to assess and deal with. Residents without internet access can call in with a pothole report to: 01492 575337.