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Suffolk County Council's new pothole-mending technology has already helped to improve roads in Haverhill, Kedington and Stoke by Clare

Suffolk Highways has been out and about in Haverhill and nearby villages repairing pot holes after investing £300k in Nu-phalt Thermal Patching technology.

The investment, which has been funded from the extra £9.67m received from central government in the Autumn, has aided the county’s Highways teams to carry out more effective, longer-lasting repairs to Suffolk’s road surface.

Over the last month, Suffolk Highways has deployed three thermal road repair machines which have repaired approximately 1,700 potholes county-wide.

In Haverhill, potholes have been fixed with the new equipment in Tern Close, Leather Lane and Harrow Road, while Mill Road, School Road and Dane Close in Kedington, plus Cains Hill (pictured below) in Stoke by Clare have also had their surfaces improved.

Cllr Mary Evans watches the new thermal patcher being put to use in Cains Hill, Stoke by Clare
Cllr Mary Evans watches the new thermal patcher being put to use in Cains Hill, Stoke by Clare

The process includes an eight-minute heating cycle of the road surrounding the defect allowing for the existing road surface to be heated to 200 celsius.

The surface is then raked, topped up with bitumen binder and pre-heated material, then compacted. This all takes place within the service’s much-favoured 15-minute temporary closure.

The process does not require excavation of the highway, meaning no dust or noise, and better still, no waste material. The result also means there are no surface joints, which can be prone to faster deterioration.

Councillor Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member responsible for Roads, Transport and Rural Affairs, said: “We are always researching and testing new ways of repairing our county’s roads, to ensure that our limited budget is used to best effect and that the methods we’re using are providing the quality we expect for our county.

“The thermal patching technology has allowed SCC Highways to deliver super-efficient, longer-lasting repairs to potholes, whilst minimising waste of material and massively reducing our carbon footprint when compared with traditional repairs.

“I was delighted to see the thermal patchers in operation recently and hope that Suffolk’s residents will start to see a visible difference in the condition of the roads given the effectiveness of these repairs and the speed at which they’re completed.”

Following its success, Suffolk Highways is now looking to accommodate this technology by adapting some of its own fleet to self-deliver this repair technique.

To assist Suffolk Highways with their regular inspections of the network, members of the public are encouraged to report a pothole or other highway-related defect to Suffolk Highways by visiting: https://highwaysreporting.suffolk.gov.uk.

As a reminder, only potholes which meet the criteria for intervention will be repaired.

This currently means that only potholes which are larger than 400mm (about the size of a large dinner plate) in diameter and 50mm (the size of a golf ball) in depth will be repaired.

The speed of a repair will depend on the type of road a defect is on.

A six-month trial is currently taking place from the Phoenix House Service Delivery Centre in Ipswich whereby repairs are being ordered for potholes 200mm (20cm) and larger.

More information can be found here: www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/highway-maintenance/highway-asset-management/highway-maintenance-operational-plan.

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