Dragon unleashed on Oxfordshire’s potholes

Oxfordshire County Council has deployed a new weapon in its battle against potholes – a ‘Dragon’.

The mobile patching machine uses a fire breathing nozzle to dry out potholes and has already fixed many hundreds of potholes and a multitude of other defects on the county’s roads.

Skanska, Oxfordshire County Council’s highways maintenance contractor, has added the Dragon to its arsenal against potholes and is using it to good effect across Oxfordshire, Cambridge and Peterborough.

The machine repairs an average of 20 defects day and has filled up to 44 potholes in one shift. So far it has fixed just short of 2,000 in Oxfordshire. The traditional method of pothole repair consists of a two-person gang and a lorry manually filling the potholes with hot tarmac.

In the right circumstances, potholes filled using the dragon can cost as little as £10 as opposed to around £70 for traditional methods.

The area which needs repairing is dried and cleaned with compressed air and then sealed with a combination of stone chippings and hot bitumen emulsion. The surface is then ready to take traffic in a matter of minutes.

The patcher is also ideal for treating minor cracks and crazing that could otherwise develop into potholes, thereby treating a potential defect before it occurs.

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, councillor David Nimmo Smith, said: “We are pleased to be working with our contractor to bring innovation to our highway service. This technology prevents damage and helps repair roads faster and so contributes to our commitment to maintain our roads in a cost efficient way.”

Paul Durham, business director at Skanska, added: “Our aim is to reduce the number of potholes and the patcher is helping us to achieve this because it seals and treats the road helping to prevent these from forming. Where potholes have appeared, it is a lot faster than traditional repair techniques. On average it treats six times more per shift. It reduces the need for traffic management systems, which means we can keep the roads running and avoid delays to motorists.”

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