How we identify and repair potholes.

1 Why there are currently more potholes

The extreme weather over the past year has led to a rapid deterioration in the quality of road networks and a higher-than-normal incidence of potholes.

Large weather fluctuations make road surfaces expand, contract and expand again, causing cracks and new potholes to form.

How potholes are inspected

When potholes are reported to the council an inspector visits the site and decides on its repair depending on size, location and severity. Repairs are only temporary when the weather is very wet or cold, or when it is an emergency out-of-hours repair.

2 Who repairs the potholes?

Repairing potholes

Response times for fixing potholes vary as shown below.

  • We repair potholes greater than 100mm deep and 150mm wide on all roads within 5 working days.
  • We repair potholes between 40mm and 100mm deep and 150mm wide on all roads within 28 days.
  • We do not repair potholes less than 40mm deep on any road, but we will review them at our next inspection.
  • We always try to make a permanent repair. Sometimes we need to make a temporary repair during wet weather to make the road safe. We monitor this type of repair closely and if they fail we will fix the pothole permanently.

All safety defects are repaired through our core maintenance contract with Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Last year the contractor fixed 96.7% of potholes and safety defects on time. On average, the time to fix potholes during this timescale was 15.5 days.

How potholes are repaired

Wherever practical a ‘sawn repair’ is undertaken. This involves cutting out the defective area of highway to create solid edges around the pothole, breaking out the entire cut area to a solid base, removing arisings, sealing the area with a bituminous seal, then backfilling and compacting with the appropriate surfacing material.

Sometimes the contractor cannot make a sawn repair due to the size of the pothole, weather conditions or the existing poor condition of the road.

If the road surface is in a very poor condition and we cut into the road surface, it is likely to keep breaking out to a much larger area.

The contractor may then need to make a temporary repair to remove the hazard but the site will be revisited within 28 days to undertake a permanent repair.

3 Proactive response to potholes

We have increased the number of ‘Velocity patcher’ units to repair road surfaces faster and more effectively. Velocity patchers repair large areas of carriageway that are considered a safety issue and also focus and repair areas that are deteriorating but have yet to become a safety issue.

We have also introduced Find and Fix pothole gangs, deployed to areas of West Sussex where road surfaces are particularly poor.

Longer term approach to highway maintenance at West Sussex

When multiple potholes have occurred in a specific location, it is likely that the highway asset has reached the end of its useful life.

The Council has a programme of planned preventative maintenance which includes resurfacing, surface dressing and other treatments. Details are published in the Annual Delivery Programme.

West Sussex County Council has invested over £16m in carriageway resurfacing and treatments in the financial year 2022/23 and this financial commitment continues into 2023/24.

Details of the council's Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Strategy and Policy are published on the council’s website.

4 Report a pothole

Please provide as much detail as you can about the size of the pothole (width and depth) and exact location (for example road name, opposite house number or landmark, position in the carriageway, by junction). This will help us respond quicker.

Potholes on trunk roads A23, A27 and M23 should be reported to National Highways.

Further information

Last updated:
26 April 2024
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