A recent survey by GoCompare1 shed some interesting light on the true cost of potholes. As well as looking at the amount of money councils were spending on pothole repair, the insurer provided an insight into the compensation costs that councils have paid out to drivers between 2018 and 2020.
Top of the pops, with an unenviable bill of £1.4 million for the three-year period was Northern Ireland. Birmingham was in second place with £683,000 and Stoke in third place with £427,000 – and that’s with a very quiet year on the roads in 2020. As for pothole repair costs, GoCompare reckons councils spent a total of £99m fixing potholes last year alone.
This is all useful information. However, what such surveys don’t take into account is the environmental cost of this vital maintenance.
We know from talking to our customers that environmental impact and carbon emissions are moving up the agenda for councils. For instance, the London Borough of Richmond and Wandsworth, which recently purchased one of our pothole repair units, reports that environmental credentials were important for its members (alongside the cost and time savings) in making their decision.
The Government signalled its direction of travel in December last year when it produced its procurement guide, The Construction Playbook, aimed initially at Central Government departments and arm’s length bodies such as Highways England. The Playbook prescribes that carbon cost should be taken into account at the earliest stage when considering different construction solutions. Enlighted local authorities are looking to do the same.
Road repairs can be carbon hungry on many counts: lorry movements to take waste material away and bring new asphalt in; the cost to heat the asphalt for repair; generators to operate power tools. Traditional pothole repair methods cost around 2.4 tonnes of carbon per eight-hour shift*.
Then there’s the question of longevity, or rather lack of it. How many pothole repairs have you seen unravelling as soon as they are subjected to heavy traffic or a bit of freeze-thaw action? All that cash and carbon then must be spent again; or perhaps even more will be spent on a resurfacing operation.
The good news is that are ways to lower the carbon cost of pothole repairs. Our system, for example, costs less than 20% of the traditional method2 and thermally bonds the material in and around the pothole to prevent it reforming. Green revolutions can be black too…
Speak to Thermal Road Repairs today about how to go greener.
High output. Low emission. Permanent solution.
2 Source: Electricity North West audited report