RSTA Calls for Agreed National Criteria for the Repair and Classification of Potholes

The proper repair of potholes has always been an issue, and the RSTA is now taking a stand and calling for an agreed standard to be implemented on a national level for correct pothole repair. According to the RSTA, or Road Surface Treatments Association, without an agreed upon national criteria, local departments may well be forced to take improper measures in saving money – simply by not paying attention to small potholes and instead just focusing on large ones.

Changing the definition of a pothole saves local authorities money but leaves poorly maintained roads

Changing the definition of a pothole saves local authorities money but leaves poorly maintained roads

The RSTA’s call follows – and may well be triggered by - the recent decision of the Kinross and Perth council to ‘re-define’ what it classifies as a pothole. According to the council, a pothole should now fall within the classification of being 60 millimetres deep, which is a 50 percent increase from the previous classification of 40 millimetres. This means that potholes in the area would need to be at least 60 millimetres before they are filled and repaired.

The Road Surface Treatments Association’s chief executive, Howard Robinson, suggests that local bureaus are under an immense amount of pressure, especially financially. But these authorities still have to fulfill a duty of care to make sure that road networks are maintained correctly. As a result, they try to meet their obligations – but due to continuous cutbacks in their budgets, they may take extreme measures just to spend less money. And these measures would include changing the specification of potholes so they will not have to be repaired if they are classified as ‘too small.’


The approach to potholes around the UK

Even though there is a “Well-Maintained Highways Code of Practice,” this only serves as a guide to local departments, and not as a standard regulation. Because of this, different areas have different approaches when it comes to pothole classification and repair. In areas like Gloucestershire, a defect on the road surface is only classified as a pothole if it is more than 30 centimetres wide and 4 centimetres deep. In London’s Hounslow, pothole classification is again different – holes have to be 7.5 centimetres before they are repaired.  Warwickshire’s classification is that a hole of up to 5 centimetres is not dangerous, and will be repaired only after a six-month period (in time with routine maintenance). If a pothole is at 10 centimetres in Warwickshire, it would take as much as 28 days before it is repaired. In areas like Herefordshire, however, all potholes are supposed to be reported and repaired regardless of how deep or wide they are.

For the RSTA, the lack of a national classification or criteria for potholes results in a kind of ‘lottery’ for road repair, where different local departments have different strategies and approaches. With national criteria for pothole repair and classification, there would be more consistent assessments for road maintenance, repair, and intervention.

Posted on 19 Sep 2016 in News

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