A return of Roman roads?

Posted 05 August, 2020 at 16:00

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of Pronounce Concierge Service

Materials used by the Romans are making a comeback for modern innovation

As archaeologists discover Roman pothole repair methods, meet the road repair SME transforming Britain's highways using ancient materials

  • Annual repair bill of potholes in UK costs £4bn
  • Introduction of Roman materials to innovative road repairs will provide for permanent pothole repair
  • Easier and quicker to deploy materials mean that potholes are filled 5x quicker

As part of an improvement of the A1 in North Yorkshire, archaeologists have discovered the Romans settled in the area at least a decade earlier than previously thought, producing coins and interacting with local people. Staggeringly, the researchers also found evidence 2,000 year-old attempts to fix potholes, using local limestone deposits to fill in ancient road defects.

Today, the state of British roads remains a bugbear for many motorists. 2,000 years later, potholes continue to cause despair and anger for motorists up and down the land, with these menaces costing British car owners £4bn in repair bills claims annually. Such is the gravity of people wishing to see the back of them, the Government announced a £2.5bn fund in the most recent budget to tackle the issue. Now however, Roman innovation is making a comeback, with a return of Roman-inspired technology being introduced to modern roads in the UK for the first time.

New innovative solutions however are being introduced to water-proof British roads, therefore helping to provide permanent pothole repairs. Mastic is an adhesive that Romans had previously used as a method of waterproofing, but is now adapted for pothole repairs through new breeds of mastic asphalt in the UK.

Roadmender Asphalt, a Sheffield-based bitumen technology company have recently developed a novel approach to using mastic asphalt for to pothole repairs designed, using new materials specifically designed for pothole repairs. One of which is named Elastomac; a novel thermoplastic innovation that includes seven end of life tyres recycled into every tonne. 

Harry Pearl, CEO of Roadmender Asphalt, offers insight into the revolutionary material;

"Rather than having to spend time square cutting and excavating potholes before filling them with glue covered aggregate that takes hours to collect, has a 5 hour shelf life and then requires vibratory compaction; potholes can now be filled with a purpose designed flowable repair material that’s made from sustainable recycled materials, is heated on site, welds itself to the existing road and delivers a totally waterproof permanent repair. By avoiding excavating the patch the process requires on average 80% less material with no waste to carry away meaning contractors are able to complete 5 times more patches per day at significantly reduced cost."

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