Making Inroads

Today, 15th January 2020 is the sixth National Pothole day, where campaigners raise the need for funding and resources to make sure Britain’s roads are up to scratch.

It’s appropriate for us in Bristol today as we had to warn residents that a section of Bishport Avenue in Hartcliffe was closed to resurface a section damaged by the recent poor weather.

Potholes and poor road surfaces are a frustration for motorists and cause serious damage to cars. They can also be especially dangerous for cyclists and motorbikes. We also know that the repair works themselves can be frustrating – causing delays on our network and inconvenience while our teams and contractors repair road surfaces.

It’s a huge challenge for councils across the country and Bristol is no different. In fact, here we repair over 5,000 potholes every year. Our highway network is the largest and most visible publicly owned asset in the city – it covers over 1,100km of carriageway, as well as our popular cycle routes and pedestrian footways. It is used daily by the travelling public for commuting, business, social and leisure activities.

Although it might be taken for granted until it goes wrong, our network is fundamental to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of local communities and to the prosperity of the city as a whole. This is why we will robustly monitor the conditions and always look to ensure the safety of our staff, contractors and the general public through the active promotion of a positive health and safety culture.

The ongoing upkeep of our highways never stops and we are continuing with preventative work such as surface dressing and repairing defects before they cause potholes. It is key that we get ahead and take action early. Anyone who spots a pothole can report it online here or by calling 0117 922 2100.

This month also means the start of a new way to manage road works and reduce the amount of time our network is disrupted. A new system of streetworks permits will reduce traffic congestion and enhance air quality by introducing conditions on the times during which work can take place, helping to improve people flow and reduce congestion. It will also allow us to take action against companies who take too long to complete their works. This is part of our active roadworks approach to make sure roadworks are as efficient as possible.

Last year I saw some Bristol based innovation with plastic waste tarmac roads at the new housing development Ashton Rise. Willmott Dixon were incorporating tarmac roads into Ashton Rise’s development by replacing carbon intensive bitumen found in Tarmac with non-recyclable waste plastic.

Waste plastic was collected from Ashton Rise’s construction site through the waste management company ETM and processed it into a plastic polymer to replace the need for bitumen in the asphalt mix of tarmac roads, creating a ‘circular economy’ for plastic waste. By repurposing non-recyclable plastic that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration, Ashton Rise has prevented 1.3 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere or the equivalent of 146, 262 plastic bags being produced.

Although we’ll continue to prioritise early intervention and innovation for our network, we are hopeful that the Government’s promised National Infrastructure Strategy will include a pothole filling programme to help support stretched council budgets to maintain this important infrastructure.

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