Pothole project to pave way to smoother roads

Pothole project to pave way to smoother roads

June 2, 20212 min read

• Joint research project will combine effort and expertise of pavement engineers, material scientists and computational fluid dynamics experts

• Project to look at improving quality, longevity and accessibility of the highway network

• Aston University will be working with University of Nottingham and seven other industrial partners including Highways England and the Road Surface Treatment Association

A project which will be the driving force behind the redesigning of roads and changes in road repairs could revolutionise the way potholes are repaired, and road surfaces are designed.

The three-year collaboration, ‘Prevention and Management of Road Surface Damage’, is being led by Mujib Rahman, professor in civil engineering, Department of Civil Engineering at Aston University and Dr Nick Thom of the University of Nottingham.

The project will combine the efforts and expertise of pavement engineers, material scientists and computational fluid dynamic experts from both universities.

The research aims to improve the design and construction of roads to minimise surface damage caused by water freezing and thawing, and general wear and tear from traffic. It also will be looking at how to change the science behind road repairs and maintenance.

Research will be looking at two main elements:

- Enable the design of roads to prevent surface damage from water and environmental factors

- Introduce a change in the management of road repair and create a more durable repair of the road surface.


Professor Rahman said that smoother roads were critical to the nation as the 250,000 miles of paved road, valued at £750 billion, which is the network for deliveries of goods and services across the UK.

But he added potholes and damage to roads had become ‘increasingly problematic’ for all users.

“We want to drive out the pothole epidemic that has overcome the UK in recent years. Due to record breaking rainfall, extreme cold weather and tight financial constraints on highway authorities, this situation has become much worse. This has been combined with the lack of longevity in some repairs” he said.

Dr Nick Thom, from the Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre Research Group, said: “The expected deliverables are material specifications and maintenance guidelines designed – like a Covid vaccine – to stop this disease of the road in its tracks. In the main this will be about doing better with currently-used resources, but, given the expected slump in future oil production with consequent loss of bitumen supplies, the search will also be on for alternative viable high-performance products.”

The project has been funded by Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and will be running until March 2024. Supporting it will also be ADEPT, Highways England, Transport for London, Nottinghamshire County Council, Cooper Technology and the Road Surface Treatment Association (RSTA).

Connect with:
  • Mujib Rahman
    Mujib Rahman Professor in Civil Engineering

    Professor Rahman is a Chartered Engineer with more than twenty years’ experience in academics and industry.

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