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Counting the cost of flooding in New South Wales

Earlier this month the New South Wales (NSW) Government announced AU$500 million of new funding to local councils to help repair a huge backlog of potholes.

NSW and other states in the East of Australia have suffered from the effects of La Niña for three consecutive years, with roads everywhere suffering from an explosion of potholes. La Niña is part of a natural weather cycle over the Pacific Ocean, which raises the chance of rain over most of Australia, with eastern areas getting the worst of it.

According to insurance company NRMA, AU$500 million will be far from sufficient to fix the backlog of potholes in the state. In its Fix Our Broken Roads report, published in December 2022, NRMA says that the pothole repair cost backlog for 2021/22 was already at AU$1.9 billion, with this year’s La Niña expected to significantly boost that total as new potholes outnumber repairs.

Heavy rainfall and flooding can damage roads in a number of ways. Water runs into existing cracks, with the passage of vehicles forcing the water further in under pressure and widening the cracks. For existing potholes, rain or flood water washes out loose material, enlarging them. And, on rural roads, ground beneath the road can be washed away creating cavities which then cause cracking in the road layers above it.

The NSW highway network consists of 185,000 km of roads, with around 80% classified as local roads and managed by councils. The NSW Government will be allocating the AU$500 million pothole fund in proportion to the total length of road that each council manages. Over half of the funding, 56%, will go to regional councils with the remainder going to councils in Greater Sydney.

Potholes are an emotive subject in NSW – as they are in many places – causing accidents, damage to cars and disruption to motorists. NRMA reports that it attended over 62,500 breakdowns related to tyre and wheel damage between July and November in 2022 in NSW and Australia Capital Territory (ACT). This compares to 41,500 in the same period in 2021.

With the NSW elections coming up in March, the Government is keen to show it is tackling potholes and has been trialling new pothole fixing technologies. Now that Thermal Road Repairs has a partner company in the region, A1 Highways, we hope that the NSW and local governments will have a chance to see our technology in action.

The Thermal Road Repairs system effectively removes cracks which means there’s no weak point for the next dose of heavy rainfall to infiltrate. It achieves this by controlled heating of material in and around a pothole or crack, mixing it with new hot asphalt and then compacting the area.

Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.

Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry.

High output. Zero emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution.


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