Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Potholes appear as icy roads begin to thaw

Potholes caused by the recent severe weather conditions are beginning to appear across the country’s road network as the freezing weather begins to thaw.

The worst conditions in 30 years have left roads exposed to a condition known as “freeze-thaw”, which damages the roads in wet and particularly freezing conditions. Water in cracks in the road expands into ice causing the surface of the road to break up and deeper than usual potholes to form. 

The public is being asked to urgently report any defects they spot to their local authority so that they can be fixed as quickly as possible.

Potholes are “gaping sores” in our road network, said Local Government Association Transport Board chair Cllr David Sparks. “The wet combined with the freezing conditions destroys tarmac very quickly. As the ice seeps into the road it expands and rips chunks of the surface out leaving potholes blighting the highways,” he said.

“As the ice seeps into the road it expands and rips chunks of the surface out leaving potholes blighting the highways.”

Cllr David Sparks, Local Government Association

“After the snow comes the repairs and councils are working flat out to keep drivers safe by fixing the holes as quickly as possible. However, some ground is now waterlogged meaning the bituminous material will not stick. Temporary solutions will be used where necessary until the weather improves.” 

ICE vice-president Geoff French said the thaw of treacherous icy roads could bring little respite, with drivers having to cope with increasing numbers of potholes.

Snow and ice, together with freezing temperatures can also cause deterioration of footpaths and pavements, meaning attention will have to be focused on fixing these along with the potholes.

Street Scene director Bill Batey said:  “This severe weather period which has lasted for almost four weeks, has inevitably had an effect on the road surface and we are already seeing an increase in the number and size of potholes from what we would expect over a normal winter period.

“We are encouraging residents to report potholes and other damage caused by the weather so that we can give our urgent attention to them.  In the meantime, I would urge people to drive carefully on stretches of road where they know potholes have developed until we can get our resources out there to fix them.”

A record number of potholes were filled last year, with councils mending a hole in the road, on average, every 33 seconds, according to new analysis published by the Local Government Association. 

Last year, as an average across the country, councils filled 968,195 potholes – or one every 33 seconds.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Does reporting the potholes to actually work?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.