The Government has announced funding of more than £20 million for trials to “future proof” the UK’s roads.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that £22.9m will be used to test a series of technologies, including plastic road surfaces designed to stop potholes and “solar powered” roads that don’t ice up in winter.
The money is to be spent in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Staffordshire, Kent, Reading, Suffolk and Solihull and Birmingham, with a view to rolling out any successful scheme to other parts of the country.
A total of £1.6m will be spent extending trials of plastic roads in Cumbria. The scheme involves adding pellets made from recycled plastic to an asphalt mix as a binding agent instead of Bitumen. The process is said to create a stronger road that is less susceptible to potholes.
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The Transport Secretary commented: “Potholes are the number one enemy for road users and this Government is looking at numerous ways to keep our roads in the best condition.
“Today’s trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”
The Government has already said it will provide an extra £420m for roads maintenance in England. Picture: Shutterstock
Other technologies being trialled under the Live Labs programme include using kinetic energy capture to power street furniture and create “power roads”. Similar schemes in France have used geothermal energy to keep car park and bus station roads free of ice in winter.
In Staffordshire £4m is to be spent examining how to extend the concept of smart motorways to local road networks.
No replacement for proper funding
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes welcomed the trial of new technology to improve the quality of the country’s roads but insisted that more immediate funding was needed to tackle the pothole problem.
He said: said: “It makes absolute sense to see how modern technology could be used. Whether this spells the end of the dreaded pothole is, however, another matter.
“For this reason, this project is no replacement for the Government…putting in place longer-term funding that gives councils the money they need to get on top of our pothole crisis once and for all.”