Edinburgh roads: Pothole machine hits Edinburgh streets to carry out repairs in just one day
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“There’s a killer on the road.” The Jim Morrison lyrics from 1971 now take on a new meaning in the Capital with the emergence of the council’s latest weapon to tackle the pothole problem. Dubbed ‘the pothole killer’ the council are trialling a specialist JCB over the next six months in a bid to fix road imperfections more efficiently.
The Pothole Pro has been used across the city streets for the last month and road workers say jobs that would normally take three days can now be completed in a single day, with the machine able to work with more precision, less vibration that in turn provides a more effective finish by the surfacing team.
Machine operator, Andrew Stone, said he believes the machine is ‘the future’ with regards to tackling the capital’s pothole problem. The 23-year-old, who came through the council’s apprenticeship scheme said: “We’re able to get through the work a lot faster and we’re able to reach a consistent depth. It feels good, you’re getting a better finish, it’s going to last a lot longer and making the road safer – it’s brilliant.”
Talks to introduce the Pothole Pro began last winter and comes after news last year indicating that Edinburgh faces a backlog of £77 million in road repairs. In addition to an astronomical repair fee, the council has paid more than £65,000 in the last four years to drivers in compensation payments due to damage caused by road defects.
Transport convener Scott Arthur said is pleased with the results from the machine so far and admitted that Edinburgh’s road conditions ‘have never been worse.’ Cllr Arthur explained that as the Pothole Pro works faster than previous technology this will result in a ‘less disruptive’ approach to road repairs.
Cllr Arthur said: “I inherited a situation where road and footpath maintenance was underfunded and I have worked hard to try to address that. I am really pleased to see we now have an extra £11million for road and footpath maintenance and hopefully that means we will no longer be ashamed when we look out our windows.”
Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian, Miles Briggs, who labelled Edinburgh as ‘the pothole capital of Europe’ earlier in the year said the large amount of claims made by Edinburgh residents highlights ‘the state of disrepair of our roads’ adding that potholes are ‘a public safety issue.’
Mr Briggs said: “The ‘pothole killer’ is something my colleagues on the council have been calling for, for some years now so I really welcome the fact we now have one operational in the capital. It really now points towards us a capital taking this issue seriously and I hope this is finally an opportunity for us to fix our roads.”
This year the council’s budget for maintaining roads and pavement is just under £20million and should the Pothole Pro trial period prove to be successful, the local authority will consider expanding the fleet of new machines later in the year.
But despite the ‘pothole killer’ being slated as a positive step forward, some experts remain sceptical on how effective the modern JCB can be – stating that short-term patching has proven to be ineffective in the past and called for the need of more long term fixes and investment from local and national government.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “I’ve seen a number of different pothole machines over the years and most of them have not worked very well or lasted as long as traditional long-term repairs – any patch by it’s nature is a patch.” Mr Greig said he understands the council’s budget may dictate approaches taken but added: “If it is just ultimately patching the roads then it isn’t really helping to fix that long-term problem.”