Potholes - Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there more potholes on the roads this winter?

There are potholes right across the country - but more have formed this winter as a result of the  severe weather during December. Many roads were covered in snow and ice and this is ideal conditions for potholes to form, which they can do in a very short space of time..

What effect has the snow and ice had on the road surfaces?

Potholes and road defects are created by water getting into the surface of the road through cracks usually caused by traffic. When temperatures plummet, the water freezes and expands, causing the surface to break up. When the ice melts it leaves a space below the surface, which collapses under the weight of traffic and eventually forms a pothole. The repeated freeze-thaw effect this winter has made more potholes form much more quickly.

How do you decide which potholes to fix first?

Safety is always the priority. When it's not possible to carry out immediate repairs because of other hazards or long term flooding, we may use temporary signs and barriers to divert vehicles around the defect. Highways engineers inspect each defect and decide which ones need to be treated as a priority. Highways defects fall into one of the following categories:

  • Emergency defects which are made safe within two hours – these repairs may be temporary to make the road safe with permanent repairs being made later.
  • Defects which are not emergencies become part of the maintenance programme and are repaired within two months.
  • Larger or more complex works (such as major resurfacing of roads or pavements) are generally programmed separately.

What is the difference between a temporary and a permanent repair?

A typical permanent repair would see a rectangular area cut out of the road around the pothole with a diamond bladed saw giving the repair clean, flush sides. The hole is cleaned out and painted with liquid bituminous binder. The hole is then filled with a hot bitumen-bound material which is raked and finally compacted mechanically.

A temporary repair is a short term measure to make the road safe which involves using a deferred set cold material to fill the hole until a permanent repair can take place

Emergency repairs may well be of a temporary nature until a permanent repair can be carried out but this is not a false economy; the important thing is to make the road safe for users until the permanent repair can be made.

Will you have to close any roads while you carry out pothole repairs?

It is very unlikely that this will be the case. Some narrower rural roads with higher speed limits may need to be closed while repairs are carried out to keep the workforce and road users safe. Road closures are less likely to be needed on urban roads where speed limits are 30mph or below, and where it is possible to complete the work by sectioning off an area of the road.

We try wherever possible not to close the road, and carry out repairs using temporary traffic controls (for example Stop/Go boards). However, it's inevitable that pothole repairs will sometimes mean closing a road while the work is done.

Is pothole patching just a quick fix? What about the long term?

In emergency situations a quick repair will be done, followed by a permanent repair depending on the circumstances.

Can't you just re-surface all the roads and prevent potholes forming at all?

It would be impossible to eliminate potholes, as they appear randomly all the time, and potholes will continue to develop as roads get older and these will be repaired as part of our normal maintenance programme.

The only way to cut down on new defects emerging is more complete resurfacing, and, with 1,415 kilometers of roads, this would be an unaffordable option for taxpayers without much more funding from central Government to maintain our roads.

How do you know where the worst ones are?

All highways are inspected for safety defects and the frequency of these depends on a number of factors, such as how much the road is used. Of course it is possible for pothole defects to occur between inspections and reports from the public are very helpful so that we can prioritize these and deal with the defects.

How do I report a pothole? Will you come and fix it?

The most efficient way for residents to report a pothole or road defect to Denbighshire County Council is via an online form which can be found here:

Report a pothole or pavement repair problem

Residents who do not have access to the internet can call in with a pothole report to: 01824 706000.