Utility companies could be held accountable for poor road repairs

Utility companies could be held accountable for potholes
Utility companies could be held accountable for potholes
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Utility companies could be better held to account for poor road repairs that cause potholes or dangerous road surfaces.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has launched a consultation on increasing the guarantee on utility firms’ roadworks, so that if a pothole forms as a result within five years, the company must return to bring the road surface back to normal.

The Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways consultation will propose increasing the minimum guarantee from the current two years to up to five years, and will also introduce new asphalt standards, to keep roads pothole-free for longer.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition.

“Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.”

The proposals also allow for new innovative surfacing to be used, such as asphalt with a high bitumen content that is easier to compact to the required density. This makes it less prone to potholing.

This consultation, which will last eight weeks, follows a number of other interventions by the Government to help improve road surfaces.

Last month, the Department for Transport announced real-world tests of new road surfaces and technologies in eight areas to see which emerging innovations provide long-term solutions to improve journeys.

The £22.9m. Live Labs projects will be delivered by councils - including Kent, Staffordshire, Reading, Suffolk and Solihull and Birmingham – and if successful, could be adopted by other authorities.

In the Budget in November, the Chancellor announced an additional £420m. for road maintenance for 2018/19 financial year. This brings the total funding for pothole repair and roads maintenance up to £6.6 billion from 2015 to 2020.

Last year, the Department for Transport announced councils across England could introduce Lane Rental schemes – where utility companies are charged up to £2,500 a day to dig up busy roads – to reduce the duration of roadworks and speed up traffic.

The government is also investing up to £10m. in Street Manager. The data opened up by this new digital service should enable motorists to plan their journeys better, so they can avoid works and get to their destinations more easily.