Council puts new pothole repair vehicle to the test

Cheshire West and Chester Council is assessing a new vehicle to join its fleet in the fight against potholes.

The Council’s Highways Service is currently testing the capabilities of the JCB Pothole Pro as part of an eight-week trial.

The Pothole PRO is a timing-saving, three-in-one vehicle designed to make pothole repairs faster.  First it cuts into the road surface where a pothole has appeared, it crops the perimeter of the hole neatly to allow a watertight repair, and then it brushes away and collects the debris afterwards. Highways teams just need to lay and compact asphalt into the prepared hole to complete the repair.

The benefits of using such a vehicle are speed but also that operators are safely in their cab, with no risk of the use of vibrating hand tools affecting their hands or fingers.

Although potholes can occur at any time of the year, it is late winter and early spring when the weather can have a massive impact on the number of potholes forming and there is an increase in the number of potholes on the borough’s roads after heavy rain followed by freezing temperatures.

Potholes are caused when water seeps through cracks in the road caused by passing vehicles.  During periods of extreme cold, the water freezes and expands.  The ice thaws and milder weather dries up all the water and creates a hole under the surface of the road.  This gets larger every time water seeps into the hole, freezes and expands.

With the base weakened, the weight of traffic causes the road surface to collapse into the hole that was formed from water freezing, expanding and thawing under the surface.  A pothole is formed once the road surface has collapsed; wear from traffic then makes the hole bigger.

This is not always a lengthy process either, under the right conditions potholes can develop very quickly, sometimes in as little as 24 hours.

Cheshire West and Chester Council carries out regular inspections of the highway network by dedicated staff to ensure potholes and other defects are identified and repaired in a timely manner, keeping the highway safe.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said, “Last year we repaired over 7,000 potholes. We usually see an increase in the number appearing at this time of year but the recent cycle of rain, extreme cold and then mild conditions will have had a big impact on the condition of the borough’s roads.

“We have programmed in a schedule of pothole repairs using the Pothole Pro over the next eight weeks and will await the results with interest.  At the moment our teams are repairing approximately 70 square metres every day.”

The teams testing the Pothole Pro have recently been filmed by a BBC crew for the channel’s ‘Morning Live’ show for a feature about more potholes appearing at this time of year, to be aired soon.

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