Smoothing out the cracks

Are we the only ones slightly relieved at the current rainy weather? While a certain interest in snow and ice goes with the territory on this blog, it is nice to see some greenery and not have to worry about freezing temperatures for a while.

A road that’s seen better days (though this isn’t in Norfolk we might add!). Credit: Gregory Williams

But with the thaw another problem may be becoming apparent – potholes.

One of the most common ways that potholes are created is by ice forming in small cracks in the road. Water expands as it solidifies, forcing the cracks to widen and the surface to become uneven. On roads these continue to widen as vehicles travel over them and chip more of the top surface off.

So after the big freeze we experienced earlier this month, some of our roads may have suffered a bit.

Potholes can be filled and fixed pretty quickly by special teams that are employed by the authorities that are responsible for the road they’re on. However, the longer they’re left, the more dangerous they can become, so if you do notice a pothole, it’s much better to report it early on rather than to continue to travel over it until it becomes dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

The Highways Agency is responsible for what are known as the ‘major trunk roads’ in Norfolk – the A11, A12 and A47, and that goes for fixing potholes on these roads too. You can find contact details for reporting potholes or other types of damage to the road surface here.

If you live inside the boundaries of Norwich City Council, then they will be the ones to send your request to and you can do so here, or by calling 0344 980 3333 between 8am-5pm on weekdays. If you’re unsure whether this applies to you, take a look here to see whether you’re inside the city council boundaries.

Norfolk County Council is responsible for most other roads in the county and you can report a pothole to them by filling in a Highways Enquiry Tracker Report Form, or by calling 0344 800 8020 between 9am-5pm on weekdays. For dangerous potholes that need to be filled as a matter of urgency, ring the number above and report it as an emergency – potholes that pose a danger to road users are filled within two hours of the problem being reported wherever possible.

After a period of snow and ice like the one we’ve just endured, it’s quite possible the teams who make repairs to roads will be in high demand – so please bear with them. Some of the people tasked with fixing the potholes are the same people who have been out relentlessly gritting our roads over the last couple of weeks. Quite a busy start to the year for them!

Norfolk County Council Highways Rangers in the middle of fixing a pothole.

Norfolk County Council is hopeful that there will fewer potholes this winter though after highways teams did an extensive ‘surface dressing’ programme on the roads over the past year. Surface dressing is a process that involves spraying a sticky substance called ‘bitumen emulsion binder’ onto the road surface and then dressing this binder with chippings immediately after.

This provides greater protection for the road surface so that fewer cracks should appear and fewer potholes are created. While this hasn’t been done on all roads in Norfolk, it’s been targeted on roads that are particularly liable to break up.

You’ll probably be pleased to hear that there’s no snow in the forecast at the moment, with temperatures staying comfortably above zero up until Friday. They’ll drop away a bit when we reach the weekend but at the moment it looks like they should still stay above freezing. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind though, and that’ll still make it feel quite chilly outside, so best to continue to wrap up when you’re out and about.

There will be prolonged rainfall tonight, and showers over the next few days, but it looks like we’re actually going to see some sunshine. Don’t believe us? Check out the Met Office five day forecast for your part of the county.

So with sunshine and special teams working to fill in any cracks in our roads, let’s hope it’s smooth sailing into February.


2 thoughts on “Smoothing out the cracks

  1. Surface dressing was implemented down our road, and since then the road has become worse. There are far more potholes than before, and cycling on the road is dangerous due to all the loose chippings still around or knocked loose due to use. Would it not be better to fix the roads properly rather than putting these temporary fixes in place. It may cost more and be a slower process, but the roads would last alot longer and less money would need to be spent on these temporary fixes.

    • Hi Vincent, sorry it’s taken a while to reply to you. My understanding is that surface dressing isn’t a replacement for relaying the roads, more that it’s designed to lengthen the life of the road surface by protecting it as mentioned in the blog post. I suppose it’s a judgment call as to whether the highways teams spend the set budget they have on completely resurfacing fewer roads, or trying to keep more roads in a reasonable state.

      If you think your road’s in particularly bad shape though, let us know the road name and what and where the problems are (i.e. where any potholes are located) and this can be logged with the council’s highways department as something to investigate. You can either do this on here or email

      Sorry again for the late reply, need to get better at monitoring comments clearly!


      Susie at Norfolk Winter

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