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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T019506/1
Title: Prevention and Management of Road Surface Damage
Principal Investigator: Thom, Dr NH
Other Investigators:
Airey, Professor GD Hargreaves, Dr DM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ADEPT Cooper Research Technology Ltd National Highways
Nottingham City Council The Road Surface Treatments Association Transport for London
Department: Faculty of Engineering
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2020 Ends: 07 April 2024 Value (£): 385,493
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Pavement Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Dec 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 3 and 4 December 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK's road network totals around 250,000 miles of paved roads providing a means for efficient distribution of goods and services, supporting UK economic security and social prosperity, and this support will continue to be needed whatever the future of automated vehicle technology. The entire road network has been valued at £750 billion and as the UK's main transport infrastructure provides a vital service to road users, commerce and industry. However, road surface damage, particularly potholes, has become a serious safety and performance concern for all network users. The need to improve the quality, longevity and accessibility of the highway network is a vital concern of government, industry and the travelling public. It is highlighted by the recent dramatic increase in the number of cars taken in for repair of pothole-induced damage (up from 6.3M to 8.2M in two years according to a Kwik Fit survey, at an estimated annual cost to motorists of about £900M) and the maintenance backlog for local highway authorities, costed at £9.8B by the Asphalt Industry Alliance earlier this year. Episodes of severe weather in recent years (record-breaking rainfall, extreme cold-weather events), combined with tight financial constraints on highway authorities, have also led to a much publicised 'pothole epidemic', and the situation is made worse by the lack of longevity sometimes achieved in defect repairs.

Against this background, this proposal has twin interrelated ambitions to (1) enable the design/construction of roads so as to minimise surface damage (i.e. prevention); and (2) induce a step change in the science of road repair (i.e. management). These ambitions can only be realised by establishing a level of understanding that does not currently exist within the pavement engineering community. This involves isolating, by both experimental studies and theoretical modelling, the real root causes of road surface damage - although it is well known that water and ice play vital roles. This knowledge has then to be combined with evaluation of actual road data in order to produce a robust and validated design and analysis tool and to generate appropriate construction and maintenance guidance. The research needed to successfully deliver these twin ambitions will require the combined effort and expertise of pavement engineers, materials scientists and computational fluid dynamics experts, expertise found at the University of Nottingham and Brunel University. In addition, the project will only be possible through the assistance of industrial partners with specific capabilities that will complement the academic input from Nottingham and Brunel. These comprise: three highway authorities (Highways England, Transport for London and Nottinghamshire County Council), giving access to data resources as well as direct field investigation opportunities; two umbrella organisations (ADEPT - representing local authority highways departments, RSTA - representing suppliers and contractors concerned with road surface treatments); and, finally, one producer of highway material test equipment (Cooper Technology), giving specialist input into test development.

Key Findings
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk