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A ded­i­cated team works in all weathers, 24/7, 365 days a year, to keep Buck­ing­hamshire’s road sys­tem run­ning smoothly.

CAMILLA GOOD­MAN went out with a team of high­way main­te­nance op­er­a­tives to find out more about how our roads are looked af­ter

AS I pulled into The Grove in Che­sham Bois to meet the team of three it was not hard to miss the crater, sorry I mean pot­hole, that proudly sat in the road ea­gerly wait­ing to cause dam­age to any mo­torist who dared to drive through it.

How­ever, luck­ily for us, the pot­hole was not given much of a chance to cause mis­ery to mo­torists thanks to the team, made-up of Kalin Dawe, Christoper James and Si­mon Revel, who were on hand to fix it within 24 hours of it be­ing re­ported.

The mon­strous pot­hole, which I thought was shaped a bit like a bell, is what Trans­port for Buck­ing­hamshire (TfB) classes as a cat­e­gory one, the most se­ri­ous type of pot­hole which, once re­ported, must be fixed within 24 hours.

A cat­e­gory one pot­hole is one that ex­tends over 300mm in any one di­rec­tion, is more than 40mm deep and has jagged edges, ex­actly like the one in The Grove.

A cat­e­gory two pot­hole, which is smaller in size, must be re­paired within 28 days of it be­ing re­ported, either by the pub­lic or by TfB’s in­spec­tion team.

The pot­hole in The Grove was re­ported by the in­spec­tion team.

Luck­ily, be­cause the pot­hole was in a res­i­den­tial road, the team of three did not need to sort out traf­fic man­age­ment or put traf­fic lights in place like they would if it was on a busier road,sayn­ear­byAmer­sham Road, and so they could get straight to work.

Be­cause the road was not sched­uled for resur­fac­ing and the weather was on our side, it meant the team could carry out a proper and per­ma­nent re­pair as op­posed to a make-safe re­pair, which just in­volves fill­ing the pot­hole in.

Un­less the road is be­ing resur­faced, a make-safe re­pair must be­come a per­ma­nent re­pair within 28 days of the ini­tial re­pair.

The per­ma­nent re­pair started with the team clear­ing the pot­hole of leaves and other de­bris. They then used a piece of ma­chin­ery to cut into the road around the pot­hole mak­ing a large rec­tan­gle.

The team then spread a bind­ing sub­stance to act as an ad­he­sive be­fore the hot tar­ma­cta a was placed into the hole,hoh with the team know­ingkn ex­actly how much h waswa re­quired. They then n use­dus a wacker plate, which h re­mind­edr me of a lawn n mower, to com­press the e tar­mac,ta and just like magicc theth pot­hole van­ished and a niceni new piece of tar­mac c stood­sto in its place. From m start­sta to fin­ish this took thee teamte about 30 min­utes too com­plete,co and res­i­dentss werewe de­lighted with the e re­sult­sre with many of those e whowh walked past thank­ing g theth team.

It re­ally was a mes­meris­ingm process too watchwa and I felt a sense of sat­is­fac­tionsa with the endd re­sult,re which I imag­ine thee teamte must feel with ev­ery job.jo

I was not the only one whowh was sat­is­fied. Also watch­ingwa the process was Buck­sBu County Coun­cil’s cab­i­netca mem­ber for trans­port­tra Mark Shaw and com­mu­ni­ca­tion­sco man­ager forfo TfB Rose­mary Bryant.

Che­sham County Coun­cil­lorCo Mr Shaw said: “I’m“I’ ab­so­lutely de­lighted withwi them. They do an im­men­seim job at keep­ing theth roads go­ing in Bucks an­dan with­out them we’d be in a real mess. The en­ergy an­dan com­mit­ment they give is sec­ond to none”

The team then shot off to theirth next job in Bois Road. In an av­er­age day, the team,te based at the Amer­shamAm de­pot, said they re­pairre about 15 to 16 pot­holes a day, but in the colder months it can be as many as 20.

In to­tal, across the county, an amaz­ing 2,000 pot­holes are re­paired each month.

A pot­hole is where the sur­face of the road has been eroded and a hol­low has formed. Af­ter a cold spell, the roads will be in a worse state as pot­holes are cre­ated in four steps: As roads age they be­come more por­ous, hav­ing been worn down by traf­fic. This al­lows rain­wa­ter to seep into the sur­face. Cold win­ter weather freezes this wa­ter, turn­ing it to ice and there­fore ex­pand­ing and push­ing the tar­mac up and out. Gaps are cre­ated in the tar­mac when the ice thaws and turns back into wa­ter. Th­ese gaps get big­ger with each ‘freezethaw’ cy­cle which weak­ens the road.

The gaps then cave in when traf­fic trav­els over the road, caus­ing a pot­hole.

Mr Shaw warned to ex­pect more pot­holes over the win­ter.

He said: “The frost and the rain re­ally kill us. The real chal­lenge is when you have a wet win­ter with the wa­ter freez­ing, the pot­holes will come if you like it or not. Then the pres­sure is re­ally on be­cause you need to re­act to the most crit­i­cal ones straight away but you also need to keep the other planned work go­ing and flow­ing. ”

He also urged read­ers to help them keep the pot­holes at bay by re­port­ing a pot­hole as soon as they clock one.

He said: “The quicker peo­ple re­port them, the quicker we can deal with them. Re­port­ing it makes it safer for other road users quicker. Peo­ple can call us to re­port a pot­hole or do it on­line, which is the sim­ple and quick way to do it.”

TfB has an an­nual bud­get of £948,000 for re­ac­tive road re­pairs across the county.

How­ever, the re­ac­tive work of re­spond­ing to pot­holes, such as what I saw, is only a small part of what goes into keep­ing our roads run­ning. There is also proac­tive work in­clud­ing planned resur­fac­ing pro­grammes, with about 300 roads in the county due to have been resur­faced this year alone.

TfB has come up with a four year plan for the resur­fac­ing pro­gramme and a big part of that is de­cid­ing what or­der to do roads in, which Mr Shaw said peo­ple do not al­ways agree with.

He added: “Take this road [The Grove] for ex­am­ple, peo­ple say it is in

The quicker peo­ple re­port them, the quicker we can deal with them. Re­port­ing it makes it safer for other road users quicker

a poor con­di­tiond andd needs dsd re­pair­ing, we un­der­standnd that, but when you have a res­i­den­tial road with only ly about 20 peo­ple us­ing it, you need to put things in or­der of who they serve, ve, and some­thing like ke Amer­sham Road wouldld take pri­or­ity.”

Ms Bryant added: “Some me peo­ple feel we’re re­pair­ingng the wrong roads. It’s likeke your win­dows at home, youou keep them painted andnd make sure they don’t rot, ot, it’s the same whenen choos­ing what roads to do,o, you don’t want them to fal­lall into a state of dis­re­pair so it is about be­ing proac­tiveve and keep­ing the con­di­tionon good while we can.”

Be­tween April this year ar and March 2016, TfB will have spent £25m on sched­uled works, in­clud­ing White Hill, Cameron Road and Eskdale Av­enue in Che­sham.

The work iden­ti­fied to take place in 2015/16 forms part of a three year rolling pro­gramme with an ad­di­tional £20m to be in­vested on the road net­work be­tween April 2016 and March 2018.

Since 2011 in ex­cess of £50m has been in­vested to im­prove, main­tain, and pro­long the life and con­di­tion of the county’s road net­work.

Roads cho­sen for treat­ment in 2015/16 are a com­bi­na­tion of those cho­senCoun­tyCoun­cil­lors, un­der the guid­ance of Trans­port for Buck­ing­hamshire, and those shown by road con­di­tion sur­vey data to re­quire pri­or­ity treat­ment.

TfB’s road cap­i­tal in­vest­ment pro­gramme is in its fifth year af­ter it was iden­ti­fied that sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment in Buck­ing­hamshire’s roads was ur­gently re­quired.

I moved to Bucks al­most six years ago and I can safely say that I be­lieve the roads in the county are in a far bet­ter con­di­tion than in 2010, so clearly this pro­gramme is work­ing well.

Bucks County Coun­cil said it is re­ceiv­ing fewer com­plaints about the roads and we are also be­ing con­tacted less fre­quently about the topic.

In ad­di­tion this year, £1m of the £3m bud­get for patch and re­pair jobs has also been spent. A patch and re­pair job is where just part of the road, the worst part, is resur­faced, in­stead of the whole road, which saves money and time.

Mr Shaw added: “If there’s a 20 yard stretch in a bad state but the rest of the road is okay then this is when you’d use a patch and re­pair. It might not look as pretty be­cause it’s not all new black tar­mac, but it is a safe and se­cure way of re­pair­ing the road.”

Over­all, TfB’s crews are do­ing a fan­tas­tic job and as Mr Shaw said, with­out them we re­ally would be in a mess.


Main­tain­ing our roads: X marks the spot of an­other pot­hole

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