Potholes

Our first priority is to keep the road network safe. We carry out regular safety inspections to address the worst defects as well as responding to reports from members of the public.

Report a pothole

You can report a pothole using our Street Doctor online reporting system:

Report or track a problem

Further information

For a pothole to be considered a safety defect it has to be at least 40mm deep but this is on our busiest roads. For more local roads, our intervention levels would start at a depth of 50mm.

Not all defects therefore will be classed as safety defects since they will not be of sufficient severity to warrant action at present. This does not mean that there are no defects present.

Although this may sometimes give the impression that we are ignoring problems, we have to prioritise our limited maintenance funding and cannot fix all defects reported to us.

For the worst carriageway safety defects (Category 1) our response time is 5 working days and for other safety defects (Category 2) it is currently up to 4 months.

In practice most repairs are completed sooner than this in around 2-3 days for Category 1 and 2 months for Category 2.

Over the last two years we have been working hard to improve our efficiency in tackling safety defects by grouping them for treatment, identifying defect hotspots on the network and treating some defects before they actually become safety defects.

In addition, the emphasis has been on permanent repair wherever possible. There are, however, still occasions when a temporary repair has to be made, for example: if more substantial works are already planned, or location means a permanent repair cannot be effected quickly (traffic management/road or lane closure may be required) yet the defect cannot be left.

​In April 2016 the government announced details of a Pothole Action Fund, which allocated money to local authorities to be spent on fixing potholes or to stop the formation of potholes. As part of the fund, Northamptonshire received £711,000.

In line with the Department for Transport (DfT) guidance to promote greater transparency, we are publishing an annual progress report showing:

  • details of how many potholes have been permanently repaired or the length of resurfacing that has taken place to stop the formation of potholes
  • what we had originally budgeted to spend this financial year and how this additional funding has complemented the wider maintenance expenditure

This funding complements, rather than displaces, planned highway maintenance expenditure for 2016 to 2017. Our capital structural maintenance budget prior to the announcement of the pothole fund was £19,860,000 consisting of:

  • £14,004,000 DfT maintenance grant
  • £856,000 DfT incentive fund
  • £5,000,000 Northamptonshire 'Invest to Save' capital borrowing

Total including the Pothole Action Fund: £20,571,000

Of the £19,860,000 we have already allocated £1,967,941 to deal with potholes. Consequently during 2016 to 2017 we have spent in total £2,678,941 dealing with or trying to stop the formation of potholes.​

How did we spend the Pothole Action Fund?

We used the Pothole Action Fund to formulate 4 additional streams of work:

RoadMaster carriageway repair

This process enables us to deal with both existing potholes and with defects that do not currently meet intervention levels by utilizing innovative techniques. The process repairs carriageway potholes with more speed than traditional methods without compromising quality thereby giving efficiencies in highway maintenance. The system is suited to road maintenance in the April to September window.

Asphalt rejuvenation

To arrest the deterioration in the carriageway surface before it gets to the point of the formation of potholes we used two innovative products

Reclamite asphalt rejuvenation

A spray applied product which aims to restore the durability of the pavement. The product penetrates through the voids in the asphalt surface, strengthening the asphalt and aggregate bond.

CRF restorative seal

Similar to reclamite but with asphalt added. In addition to the emulsion itself, application of sand, limestone or granite screenings is added to the product to give additional binder strength. The screenings are worked into the pavement by the traffic creating a long term seal. The application of CRF can be used on roads which have previously been treated with reclamite, or on roads that are 7 to 10 years old in their lifecycle without any intervention.

Where did we spend the Pothole Action Fund?

The two additional work streams were targeted to the more rural areas, although trials of the RoadMaster Carriageway Repair system were used in urban areas. In total 19,026 potholes were repaired throughout the county using the RoadMaster Carriageway Repair system technique.

We have also carried out a programme to arrest the deterioration in the carriageway surface using reclamite and CRF in Brigstock treating a total of 8,988 m2 which is equivalent to 1,500m (1 mile) in length.

Average cost

The average cost to repair a pothole with the RoadMaster Carriageway Repair is £40.97 which includes associated traffic management costs (the grant award anticipated we would fill 13,415 potholes at £53 each).

The process used (reclamite and CRF) in Brigstock to arrest the deterioration in the carriageway surface is equivalent to £33.11 per metre.

Outcomes to date

This investment has already reduced the backlog of repair and reduced our response time to all requests for pothole repairs.

Using traditional repair methods our existing capital maintenance budget £1,967,941 to deal with potholes, has repaired 40,198 defects in carriageways between April 2016 and March 2017. 

​In April 2016 the Government announced details of a 'Pothole Action Fund', which allocated money to local authorities to be spent on fixing potholes or to stop the formation of potholes. As part of the fund, Northamptonshire received £1,171,000 for 2017 to 2018.

In line with Department for Transport guidance to promote greater transparency, we are publishing an annual progress report showing:

  • Details of how many potholes have been permanently repaired or the length of resurfacing that has taken place to stop the formation of potholes.
  • What we had originally budgeted to spend this financial year and how this additional funding has complemented the wider maintenance expenditure.

This funding complements, rather than displaces, planned highway maintenance expenditure for 2017 to 2018. Our capital structural maintenance budget is £19,760,000 consisting of:

  • £13,581,000 DfT Maintenance Grant
  • £1,179,000 DfT Incentive fund
  • £5,000,000 DfT Challenge Fund 2017 to 2018 Tranche 2 - funding specifically bid for to deal with major asset renewal or upgrades along sections of the A605 between Thrapston and the County Boundary, improving safety along the route, upgrading safety features and removing the need for frequent remedial patching works.

Total including the Pothole Action Fund £20,931,000

Of the £19,760,000 we had already allocated £1,941,176 to deal with potholes, consequently during 2017 to 2018 we have spent (in total) £3,112,176 dealing with, or trying to stop the formation of, potholes.

During February 2018 the government announced an additional Pothole Action Fund allocation of £814,682 for 2017 to 2018. However, all additional funding did not have to be spent during 2017 to 2018, therefore we took the opportunity to extend our patch planner programme for 2018 to 2019.

We used the Pothole Action Fund for three streams of work:

  1. To continue with the successful RoadMaster Carriageway Repair process which was introduced as part of the Pothole Action Fund for 2017 to 2018.
  2. To enhance the Highway Maintenance Programme to resurface full lengths or large sections of urban concrete roads, which do not meet investigatory levels but we are aware that they are of great concern to the public.
  3. To trial innovative solutions; we continue to look at alternative answers to deal with potholes and the Patch Planner Trial forms part of this strategy. The trial involved the use of a JCB 3CX backhoe with a planner on the front end to repair road surface defects.
    The results of the trial showed that the machine has very good productivity and, due to its size, the JCB 3CX backhoe is extremely mobile with the added advantage of being able to travel, independently, between sites. There is no need to load the machine onto a low loader. From the trial it is envisaged that current maintenance expenditure repairing potholes could be reduced by as much as 60%. 

In total we patched or surfaced 40,276 metre squared (m2), the average cost per m2 including traffic management was:

  • £37.90 per m2 for the RoadMaster Carriageway Repair / Patch Planner
  • £60.83 per m2 for the concrete roads

The pothole patching works that have been undertaken are aimed at preserving and restoring the condition of roads in Northamptonshire, a number of which will be followed up with a preventative surface dressing treatment during 2018 to 2019 in accordance with good practice recommendations. This treatment seals the road helping to restore its surface integrity and prolong its life, by using this preventative maintenance strategy it will effectively secure the significant investment made in the pothole patching process and will help support the long-term durability and performance of the road network.

This investment was helping to reduce the backlog of repair and increase our response time to all requests for pothole repairs. However, following severe weather there has been a noticeable deterioration in road conditions. As a consequence we are juggling our priorities to deliver the best approach, which means roads may not look ‘pretty’ due to patched potholes but it is structurally sound and fit for purpose.

We strive to provide good quality first time repairs, with fewer repeat site visits and less complaints because public perception is important to us.