The government is investing £22.9m into plastic road technology that could stop potholes from forming – which is among the new technology being tested as part of research and trials to future proof UK highways.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the money is to be used to fund real-world tests across eight local authorities in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Staffordshire, Kent, Reading, Suffolk, Solihull and Birmingham.
A project named Live Labs, which does real-world tests of new road surfaces and technologies, is being used by the local authorities outlined above, in hopes that these emerging innovations provide long-term solutions for the pothole-infested roads.
If these emerging projects are to be successful, it is hoped that these innovations and technologies would be adopted by other authorities.
“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,” Grayling said.
“Today’s trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”
A part of the funding – £1.6m – will be used to extend an existing plastic roads trial in Cumbria which involves recycling waste plastic into small pellets, which are then added into an asphalt mix in place of Bitumen, the substance that is in part derived from oil and is used to help bind asphalt together.
Other technologies to be trialled include using kinetic energy gathered from roads to power lighting and harnessing geothermal energy to prevent car parks and bus stations from freezing over in winter.
In Buckinghamshire, kinetic energy recovery technology will be used to gather energy from the testing carriageway and relay it to roadside battery units.
Furthermore, trials in Bedfordshire will see geothermal energy used to heat water pipes laid just below the surface to help de-ice car parks and bus stations in sub-zero conditions.
All these solutions are said to increase the life span of roads on which they are used.
Last March, the government promised to provide an extra £100m to repair potholes after severe weather conditions in the first few months of 2018 contributed to country-wide road degradation.