We Should Be So Lucky…To Fill The UK’s Pothole Backlog

Earlier this month, the RAC delivered concerning news – pothole-related breakdowns have skyrocketed to record highs for this quarter, marking an unprecedented surge since records began in 2006. This comes after the Prime Minister, just a few weeks ago, declared a war on potholes.

In a promising move, the government has earmarked an additional £8.3 billion in funding to mend potholes for cash strapped Local Highways Authorities. This injection of money is not just welcome; it's vital. It ensures that local councils possess the necessary resources to tackle the pothole predicament head-on, employing preventative, long-term treatments like surface dressing.

As winter approaches, the state of the UK's road network will, once again, become a growing concern. Against this backdrop, attention has turned to innovative approaches, such as our new machine the Kiely Multipatcher.

The Pothole Predicament

According to the RAC, the severity of the pothole crisis has become even more apparent, with an alarming surge in breakdowns reported between July and September this year. This quarterly figure represents a significant 46% increase from the same period last year.

This concerning escalation once again underscores the detrimental impact of the substandard and unsafe state of the country's local roads. More importantly, it paints a stark picture of the challenges faced by all road users.

The funding from government will mean over the next 11 years we will be able to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads across the country. According to the RAC, this will save drivers up to £440 each in vehicle repairs.

We now have the money to tackle the deteriorating condition of our road network, giving us in the highways sector the ability to use innovative solutions to maximise the financial constraints many local councils are facing. We must waste no time in pressing ahead with the wider implementation of surface dressing as a preventive measure and put a stop to pothole Britain once and for all.

Surface Dressing: Quicker, Greener and more Cost-Effective Answer

The type of surface dressing that is needed on a road is dependent on its current condition. Roads are therefore cateogrised into Green, Amber and Red.

'Green' roads are already in a good condition meaning that in order to maintain the current quality, a spray of asphalt preservation is all that is needed to prevent water ingress and stop potholes from forming on the surface of the road. This method is more than 90% more carbon efficient compared to traditional maintenance processes.

'Amber' roads typically require some need for maintenance in order to improve their quality. Traditional methods of treating roads would only be able to cover 0.5km in one day, as well as disrupting those using the road and costing local authorities far more of their highways budget. However, surface dressing is emerging as a quicker, greener, and more cost-effective answer to preventing reactive maintenance on roads and instead, extending the lifespan of existing road surfaces.

By forming a seal over the road, surface dressing adds an additional layer of wearing course, preventing water ingress particularly from extreme weather conditions. This is crucial, as water, once frozen, can expand and deform the surface, initiating the process of surface failure.

Surface dressing is able to cover 20 times more ground a day than traditional surfacing methods, meaning Kiely Bros can lay up to 10km in a day. It also releases significantly less carbon emissions for the same length of road when compared to traditional road resurfacing methods.

Investing in preventative surface dressing is the best way to improve our existing road network, without needing to build new roads and removes the need for reactive road maintenance.

The 'Red' Road solution: The Multipatcher

For those 'Red' roads, we would classify them as already needing significant repairs due to the poor condition and need for reactive maintenance. In order to surface dress 'red roads,' we must ensure the carriageway is in better condition and the current potholes are filled in but crucially not patched over.

At the Kiely Group, we are pioneering a new piece of equipment to combat the pothole problem in the UK with our new, innovative Kiely Multipatcher. Originating from Australia and with over 10 years of successful use, the Kiely Multipatcher is the UK's first road surface dressing machine capable of carrying out pothole repairs and surface dressing at both the front and rear ends of the vehicle. What sets it apart is its ability to carry out these tasks from the safety of the cab without requiring any operatives to be in the road or exposed to passing traffic, ensuring a safer work environment.

It is quick and efficient, delivering results on approximately 30m of road in under 3 minutes compared to the usual 25 minutes. As well as costing less than half the price of traditional road resurfacing methods with planned repairs (including lane closure costs) at £15 per pothole compared to other methods costing £55. The Multipatcher is also significantly more carbon efficient than its rivals as the emulsion only needs to be heated to 20 degrees, rather than the industry standard of 80 degrees. This means the emulsion can be laid at a lower temperature.

Earlier this autumn we attended the political party conferences and our approach piqued the interest of politicians including both the Minister and Shadow Minister for Roads. The Multipatcher's attention to safety, efficiency, and environmental impact has made it a focal point in discussions about the future of road maintenance.

Let's get to it...

The need for more technological advancements in road maintenance is evident in the quest to improve road safety and resilience as shown through the RAC's report. However, solutions like the Multipatcher exemplify a positive shift to greener, safer, and quicker alternatives to traditional methods. Let's make the most of this new found period of investing and prioritsing our roads to create smoother and safer journeys for all.