50% more potholes this winter due to prolonged cold and wet weather

Published: 20 Feb 2018

Hertfordshire has seen a huge spike in the public reporting potholes this winter.

Over three and a half thousand (3634) reports were made by the public during January 2018 compared to less than two thousand (1841) for the same period in 2017. We continue to hit our targets of repairing the most urgent potholes within 24 hours and all others which are considered serious within five to 20 working days.

The key reason for these potholes has been the repeated fluctuations in road temperature to below and above freezing. The result is what is known as the freeze and thaw process; a repeated process where rain water within the road surface expands by almost 10% when frozen, melts back down when the temperature rises to fill the cracks formed by the expansion and then re-freezes as the temperature drops to expand again, creating further cracks on the road surface.

The more the freeze and thaw process is repeated, the further damage is caused to the road surface, with additional damage caused by the wet weather, which washes away the loose surface materials.

So far this winter season HCC has made 66 gritting runs (compared to 44 for the whole of last season), with the winter season still going on until the end of April.

Executive Member for Highways, Ralph Sangster, said: “These figures show that our highways have had an extremely tough winter – with both freezing and wet weather increasing the number of potholes.

“Alongside the planned investment into the maintenance of our busiest roads, we are investing an additional £29m over the next four years to improve the condition of Hertfordshire’s unclassified road network - that’s the roads that most of us live on, as well as rural lanes; and we have already prioritised the fixing of potholes above other areas such as gully clearing or hedge trimming. 

“We’re also using a high-pressure Jet Patcher system to repair carriageway defects which could turn into potholes if not treated in an even faster and effective way to support the high volume of reports we have received this winter.”

Hertfordshire County Council encourages road users to report potholes https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/faultreporting/  but also to avoid any potential damage to their vehicles by following the advice of The AA who recommend drivers slow down when approaching a pothole and try to avoid swerving around it as it risks a more serious accident. Drivers are advised to regularly check their tyre pressures and look for any bulges, nicks or unusual tyre wear which could make their vehicle more vulnerable to pothole damage. A garage or tyre specialist will be able to provide guidance to drivers who are in any doubt of the condition of their tyres.