After a winter that saw the number of potholes reported in Oxfordshire double compared to the same period last year, a trial has taken place – believed to be the first of its kind in the UK – aimed at improving the repair process.
On Monday and Tuesday, 26 – 27 June, Oxfordshire County Council and its highways contractor Milestone Infrastructure used the road between Steventon and East Hanney as a test site to trial seven different methods of filling in potholes or repairing minor defects requiring ‘patching’. Some of these methods are already used in Oxfordshire – including the Milestone dragon patcher – while the others were new ones sourced by Milestone.
The Hanney/Steventon Road was closed and a 1km stretch was divided into sections. Each section had a different type of pothole or patch repair carried out to get a direct comparison of the various methods.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “As the highway authority, we are committed to seeking new and innovative methods of carrying out repairs on our 3,000-mile road network. That is why we are so pleased to be involved in this pioneering trial which could have a huge impact on improving the quality of the county’s roads.
“We are very proactive when it comes to repairing roads within the budget we have available but, like all councils, we are not given enough government funding for this work. That’s why we are so excited about this project, which we hope will increase value for money and improve the service we offer Oxfordshire’s road users.
“We hope this robust trial will provide evidence and information for our contractors about what repair methods work best by testing them on the same stretch of road.”
Last year, Milestone Infrastructure, a part of M Group Services, repaired 31,413 road defects. This was against a backdrop of perfect pothole-forming weather conditions – a prolonged freeze over winter followed by a protracted period of wet weather, which led to an unprecedented increase in the number of emergency pothole repairs.
Richard Lovewell, Business Director at Milestone Infrastructure, said: “As the leading highways maintenance provider, our focus is on delivering safer, greener highways for all and we are delighted to partner with Oxfordshire County Council on this innovative, controlled trial.
“Although many of the technologies seen are already in use across Oxfordshire, the learnings from comparing different repair techniques on the same stretch of road will enable us to determine the optimum solutions to maximise value for our customers, protect the environment and better serve the communities in which we operate.”
The trial will allow comparisons of the type of repair, equipment, material, and labour used, and the time taken. This would include an understanding of the potential results, longevity of repairs, waste generated, carbon impact, use of recycled content and productivity that may be achievable.
The next stage will involve contractors returning for at least four more days of work and additional testing and analysis to enable a longer-term review of the methods.