Dig this pothole buster!
JCB’s £200,000 giant repairs road craters in eight minutes
THE target has been identified – an oval pothole about four feet from the kerb on a residential street. It is not much larger than the lid of a dustbin.
Yet, like so many other blemishes in our pitted roads, it could cost a motorist thousands of pounds in repair bills – or a cyclist their life.
Fortunately, a potential solution to the pothole plague has come in the form of 13 tons of JCB machinery.
At £200,000, JCB’s Pothole Pro may seem like a pricey way of repairing a few holes in the road. But, while traditional jackhammer repairs can take half a day, the Pothole Pro cuts away the damaged road surface, before cropping the edges of the cavity and cleaning it, within eight minutes. A crew of four workmen can then fill the hole – and the whole process is completed within half an hour.
I spent a chilly morning in Stoke-onTrent to find out exactly how it works. Grabbing two yellow handlebars at the side of the vehicle, I hauled myself up three feet into the cabin.
The business end of the machine can rotate – enabling it tackle several potholes without having to move. The Pothole Pro’s 52 tungsten- tipped teeth grind out the pothole to leave a neat, square pit.
Fragments of road surface are swept up for recycling and the machine’s yellow arm then runs back over the crater twice – brushing it and spraying a thin layer of water to suppress dust.
Next, it’s the ‘cropping’ process. It is crucial to make sure the sides of the crater are square and straight, or the new road surface may not hold. Gaps will lead to the pothole forming again.
For this task, a 400mm Hardox steel blade emerges from the extendable arm, attacking the road surface with 30 tons of pressure. Another sweep and the cleanly cut pit is ready to be filled with 140C tar by workmen.
The process takes less than half an hour and leaves a neat rectangular patch.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council was the first local authority to buy a Pothole Pro back in November 2021 and since then it says it has cleared seven years of road defects in 12 months.
The machines are said to fill up to 50 potholes a day, but Ben Rawding, JCB’s Pothole Pro general manager, tells me his record is 80. He said: ‘I’ve had people come over and say, “We’ve got one that needs being done, can you come over here”.’
JCB hopes more than half of councils will be using a Pothole Pro – either renting or buying – by the end of the year. One council told the firm it reduced its pothole remove costs from £60 a crater on average to £30 – due to the reduced time and labour costs.
The Daily Mail is campaigning for an end to the UK’s pothole plague, which is costing drivers millions of pounds in repairs while putting cyclists at risk of injury or death.
The latest figures released last year by the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggest councils would need an extra £12billion and nine-years to tackle the current road repairs backlog. At least there now one less pothole to worry about.
‘It can be completed in half an hour’