As a local authority, we have a statutory duty to maintain highways that are repairable at public expense under The Highways Act of 1980. Unfortunately, the available budgets for highway maintenance do not permit us to aim to repair every defect that arises. As a result, prioritisation is therefore an essential element of everything that we do and in this respect we must necessarily have regard to established case-law, to national guidelines and to local policies that apply specifically within Trafford to properly assess and prioritise each and every defect that arises.
The effect of all these is to concentrate the need for repair very much upon the extent of the defect concerned and on the potential hazard that it represents. In the specific case of potholes therefore, our assessment and prioritisation for repair must take regard not only of the size and depth of the pothole but also of its specific location in the highway and the overall potential risk that it represents.
A few very simple and straightforward demonstrations of how this prioritisation works in practice would be as follows:
- A pothole which appeared in a highly trafficked road (e.g. the A56) would attract greater urgency than it would if it appeared in a much lighter trafficked residential road;
- A pothole in a carriageway but located at an expected pedestrian crossing point (e.g. at a pedestrian crossing or at a road junction where pedestrians would normally be crossing), would attract greater urgency than it would if located elsewhere in the road.
- A pothole located in the normal wheel-track of passing traffic would attract greater urgency than it would in another part of the road where vehicles are less likely to come into direct contact with it.
This is by no means intended to represent an exhaustive list of the different considerations that must be made however, and many other factors might also be relevant in different locations.