The past two severe winters put a strain on Wiltshire Council’s ability to cope with potholes but the wet weather, which started in December and continued throughout January, means the pressure is on like never before.
Motorists have been phoning, emailing and sending information via a new smartphone app to report potholes on almost every major route in the county.
But the council is to spend £21 million on resurfacing roads every year for the next six years - a £52m increase in what was due to be spent.
Cabinet member for highways John Thomson said: “I know it is the single most important subject for people in Wiltshire at the moment.”
Coun Thomson along with Philip Whitehead, the highways contract portfolio holder, were in Chippenham along with a team from Balfour Beatty and highways officer Adrian Hampton to show how a combination of a new road mending product and new technology is helping to beat the problem.
Coun Thomson pointed to the fact that a total of 1,117 potholes were repaired in the Wiltshire Council area in January – three times more than last year – despite the highways teams also having to cope with severe flooding.
The hit squad team made up of Balfour Beatty workers Ryan Harte and Andy Pothecary showed how a new product called Viafix can turn a huge hole in the road into a smooth surface in minutes.
They first set to work on a badly pocked stretch of road near the Hathaway Retail Park.
Just a few minutes after the cold mix was first poured into a large hole and squashed down with a pounding machine it looked almost as good as new.
Mr Harte said: “It is very quick and hopefully it will be long lasting as well.”
Coun Thomson said although the Viafix itself can last a number of years, other conditions can make the road around it crack – causing potholes to return.
It was then up to Birds Marsh View, Chippenham, where a large pothole next to a manhole cover was causing problems.
Again the hole was quickly filled and, as if to prove the council’s point that it has extra crews out scouting and fixing holes, another Balfour Beatty truck arrived to fix the same hole.
Mr Hampton said potholes form when water gets into cracks in the road then freezes, making the crack bigger and creating a hole. When cars then drive over it, the hole gets bigger and deeper.
But he said new technology means it is much easier for the council to keep in constant touch with the work crews.
He said: “When potholes are reported it is logged on the system and then is sent to the tablets used by the Balfour Beatty teams so information can be constantly updated.”
He said Viafix had also transformed road mending but where the road surface had been badly damaged the work had to be planned so that roads could be closed and repairs using hot Tarmac could be carried out.
- Wiltshire Council is responsible for 2,765 miles of roads
- 1,117 potholes were repaired in January
- 1,275 potholes were reported from December 24, 2013 and January 20, 2014
- 332 potholes were reported from December 24 to January 20, 2013
- The council will spend £21 million on resurfacing roads every year for the next six years
- The highways team works round the clock, seven days a week when needed
- During severe winter weather the council and Balfour Beatty Living Places has up to 200 workers repairing roads
- Four extra road mending gangs are now working scouting and fixing pot holes
- A and B roads are prioritised