Wet weather events, heavy traffic usage, road age and the lack of maintenance are the main causes of road failures.
Each year Council sets out its road maintenance program and capital works program as part of the annual Operational Plan review. Capital road projects are prioritised due to damage, vehicle usage and available funding which is mainly funded via general rates, grant funds and S94 monies. Most of the road maintenance works completed each year includes pothole filling, road edges, patching and drainage.
Council does however receive funding from such programs as the federal government Black Spot Program which is allocated on safety aspects of roads and crash history. To find out about Black Spot approved locations, see here.
Basically, the following repairs methods are selected depending on the problem and funding available.
Bitumen placed into the hole. This is a temporary fix and often during wet weather, or heavy road usage, the problem can reoccur. Potholes can be filled with either:
Bitumen hotmix - the placement of bitumen hotmix directly into the hole and the fill is manually tamped down. This method requires traffic control before and after the site, plus staff to undertake the works.
Jetmaster truck which uses compressed air to clear the pothole, tack coat the hole and then fills it with the bitumen and aggregate material. The compaction of the bitumen and aggregate material is done by the compressed air as the pothole is filled. This repair is more efficient and requires less labour, which means work crews can be tasked to other sites. Less traffic control is required as it is a slow moving vehicle. Better suited to less heavily trafficked roads.
Q. Is filling a pothole a permanent solution?
No it’s not – it’s generally a temporary fix. Unfortunately, the next wet weather event can see the same pothole appearing; or more in the same area. Our climate that gives us an incredible lush landscape also has a high rainfall that plays havoc on our roads.
Q. Why do potholes appear?
Unfortunately, roads don’t last forever. The older they get, the more susceptible they are to weather elements and wear and tear. An ageing road can see potholes appear due to the surface deteriorating and cracks appearing that allows water to get in and lift the road surface. Once water finds its way under the road base, this is when the damage occurs and the road surface can fail. Vehicle traffic too can weaken the surface over a number of years.
Potholes vary in size from a crack to a large enough to what sometimes can ‘swallow a car’. Potholes grow bigger the longer they are left unfixed.
Q. When is the best time to fix a pothole?
When the wet weather has passed and the ground is dry. Filling a pothole during wet weather can often see it opening up again during the same wet weather event.
Q. There’s a pothole in my road, what can I do?
The eyes and feedback from our community are one the best ways we can monitor what is happening with our roads; our staff simply cannot be in all places at all times.
Please call our Works Depot on 6685 9300 during work hours (Monday to Friday) or our after hours emergency number 6622 7022.
You can also download the app Snap Send Solve, take a picture and fill in your details. The app will then send the information to our staff who will prioritise and fill in a work request. Please be careful when taking a photo near a roadside – your safety should be your priority concern, not getting an the best shot of that pothole. Get the app here - http://www.snapsendsolve.com/
Q. I let you know about the pothole in my road several days ago, why isn’t it fixed yet?
During wet weather we get many calls from residents about potholes. Staff inspect and prioritise the repairs as quickly as possible. The location, size, safety concerns, upcoming works programs and number of vehicles that use the road are taken into consideration.
A larger repair to a section of the road that generally has many potholes in the area; it takes longer to complete and requires removing some of the road base. It does not always repair the underlying problem if a large surface area of the road has failed, but is more permanent than filling the potholes.
A new bitumen layer is placed over the existing road surface; this seals the top surface to stop water penetrating to the lower sections of the road base and gives some protection. This is a longer lasting solution if the road base is still in good working order and has not been compromised by wet weather. Patching may be required prior to the reseal.
Q. Why do you reseal roads that look perfectly fine and leave a section of road that is full of patches and pothole repairs? Isn’t this a waste of vital roads money?
No it’s not. Resealing our roads (putting another layer of bitumen over the top) helps stop the road from deteriorating and fills in the surface cracks that are starting to appear (remember, these cracks may not be visible to passing traffic). If we maintain our rounds that are in a good condition, they last longer and do not need to be reconstructed. Keeping the water out, via road reseals, is the key.
Resealing is a more cost effective program for maintaining our roads. It costs about $7 per square metre to reseal versus about $100 for a road reconstruction. When you consider the cost, it’s vital that we have a reseal program to maintain the roads that are in a good condition.
Q. But the road was resealed near my place a few months back and its now got a couple of potholes in it following the recent rain. Why?
Yes, at times we do still see potholes come up in resealed roads. Darn – we share your frustration! But if the road had not been resealed it would have been far worse – once the water gets into the road base, the road fails and needs a total reconstruction. Resealing is essential maintenance.
The top level bitumen and road base is completely removed and the road reconstructed due to the failure of the road. Significant funds are required to complete a road and can take several weeks, if not months, depending on the length of road. This option has the best road outcome.