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Soaring temperatures melt road surfaces

Motorway

Soaring temperatures in what could be the UK’s hottest June for 40 years have been causing some roads and rail fixings to melt.

In Cambridgeshire, wilting road surfaces have prompted warnings to drivers from the police.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been tackling the problem by using gritters to coat the road surfaces with a granite dust to prevent material sticking to vehicles’ tyres as they drive over the Tarmac. The council said that although it appeared stone chippings had become disloged from the roads, it was in fact binder becoming active and rising up over the stones.

“We have been monitoring road surface temperatures across the county from the middle of last week and have seen road surface temperatures creeping up to 40 degrees,” said Cambridgeshire County Council highway maintenance manager Jonathan Clarke.

“We will continue to monitor but this is purely for the short term while we are experiencing these temperatures.”

Highways England, which manages motorways and major A roads, said it had not experienced any issues with heat damage on its network.

“Most of our surfaces are tested to withstand between -15° to 60°C,” said a spokesperson for Highways England, adding in some regions the body would consider using EME2 for its roads, an asphalt mixture designed to withstand greater temperature extremes.

However in London a Croydon tram line experienced heat damage to a flexible sealant, which provides a joint between the tram rail and the Tarmac.

“The flexible sealant near the track had been softened by the current hot weather and although it had no impact on the safe running of the tram network, we appreciate it may have looked concerning to customers,” said Transport for London (TfL) director for London trams Rory O’Neill.

Engineers applied sand to the affected sealant to mitigate the heat, which O’Neill described as standard procedure.

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