LGA and RAC disagree on cause of pothole ‘surge’

12.00 | 20 February 2017 | | 4 comments

A rise in the weight of goods being transported on Great Britain’s roads will see pothole levels ‘surge’, local councils are warning.

DfT figures published last month show that the amount of goods lifted in the UK by GB-registered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in the 12-months ending June 2016 saw a year-on-year rise of 5% to 1.69bn tonnes.

In a press release issued today, the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests the increase could push the road network ‘over the edge’.

However, while the RAC backs the LGA’s call for increased Government funding, it says the suggestion that bigger lorries are a major factor in the pothole surge is a ‘red herring’.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says the heavier the vehicle, the more pressure is likely to be exerted on road surfaces – causing them to crumble more quickly.

The cross-party organisation adds that lorries, particularly ‘very heavy’ lorries, are ‘massively more damaging’ to road surfaces than cars.

Related stories 

2017 could be ‘tipping point year’ for potholes: LGA 
09 January 2017

Inadequate funding available for local road maintenance – RAC Foundation
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Pothole data provides ‘strong evidence’ that UK roads are deteriorating
01 August 2016

Having issued a warning last month that 2017 could be ‘a tipping point year’ for potholes, the LGA now says that ‘chronic government underfunding’ has left the local roads network facing an ‘unprecedented crisis’.

The LGA is calling on the Government to inject a further £1bn annually into roads maintenance, which it says could be raised by investing just 2p per litre of existing fuel duty. The LGA also says previous polling shows that 83% would support this reallocation of funds.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: “Motorists should literally be bracing themselves for a surge in potholes.

“Our local roads network faces an unprecedented funding crisis and the latest spike in lorries could push our local roads network over the edge. Lorries exert massively more weight on road surfaces than cars, causing them to crumble far quicker.”

Nicholas Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: “This will sadly come as no surprise for motorists who are used to hearing this type of bad news on a regular basis. They are all too aware of the dire state of our local roads and the level of underfunding.

“We welcome the call from the LGA for increased Government funding to address the national disgrace of potholes and we support the proposal to ring-fence a proportion of existing fuel duty revenue to fund sustained improvement over a long-term period.

“However, the suggestion that bigger lorries are a major factor in the surge of potholes is something of a red herring. The reality is an increase in freight traffic is a sign of a stronger economy and greater traffic volumes are inevitable.”

Photo: _chrisUK via Flickr. Use under Creative Commons.


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    David. I agree. Every motor vehicle that makes use of the roads contributes to the degradation of the highway. Even water falling from the leaves of a tree will assist in expediting degradation. Prolonged use over a period of time and all weather takes its toll. So does the increased use of HGVs, especially ones that are becoming bigger and heavier.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    I live on a quiet residential street which is part of the National Cycle Network. The road is used by a couple of LGVs in the shape of dustcarts and the odd one delivering something, but in general the overwhelming use is by cars. The road surface is in a dreadful state. I care not whether the surface is ‘degraded’, or ‘potholed’ – it is awful. I am sure that LGVs are responsible for a lot of wear and tear on our roads, but I think that the RAC has a point.

    David, Suffolk
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    What the RAC fails to accept or understand is the circumstances for wear that is called FRETTING. It’s where two surfacess rub together. One could be the road surface and the other the frequent force, weight vibration of the vehicles passing over it. So Red Herring, sorry RAC you are not right on this one.

    PS: The other failure of the road surface is as suggested something that happens to deconstruct the underbelt of the roads surface, and that could be water or other causing it to crack or split and then subsequently break up.

    It’s wrong for the RAC to dismiss fretting as a cause of road degradation especially with HGV’s becoming heavier. Fretting is an established and accepted causation of such damage. As heavy vehicles push and pull the upper surface of the tarmac it breaks up the skin and that leaves gaps that allows water penetration.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    Tarmac is a loose bound substance like liquid jelly. At cooler temperatures it solidifies and at higher temperatures is becomes more fluid. In other words it melts. In either state it is subject to stresses and is pushed and pulled about by the use of tyres upon the road surface. Its HGVs that cause the greatest amount of damage to the upper structure, the first two inches but also deeper down to the sub strait. This constant pushing and puling can be seen particularly at traffic lights where greater force is applied by the action of braking cornering and acceleration.

    What we see a lot of and what drivers perceive of as a pot hole is in fact just general degradation of the top surface. Not a pot hole as according to the Dft it has to be some 6 inches or 150mm deep to register as a pot hole.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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