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A pothole is where the surface of the road has been eroded and a hollow has formed. After a cold spell, the roads will be in a worse state as potholes are created in four steps:

  1. As roads age they become more porous, having been worn down by traffic. This allows rainwater to seep into the surface.
  2. Cold winter weather freezes this water, turning it to ice and therefore expanding and pushing the tarmac up and out.
  3. Gaps are created in the tarmac when the ice thaws and turns back into water.These gaps get bigger with each ‘freezethaw’ cycle which weakens the road.
  4. The gaps then cave in when traffic travels over the road, causing a pothole.

Potholes requiring urgent attention should be reported by phone to our contact centre so that they can be inspected as soon as possible – 01296 382416.

Our Highways Inspectors will assess the potholes and determine the appropriate response. This will vary, depending on criteria, from a two hour response through to a 28 day repair. Repairs are prioritised based on risk, and we have teams available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Around 2,000 potholes are repaired each month, and the roads are inspected regularly according to a schedule, so a lot of potholes will be picked up by these inspections and programmed for repair. A substantial amount of money has also been invested in the county wide resurfacing programme so this should mean that the number of potholes should start to decrease.


Sometimes it will be necessary to make a temporary repair to make the road safe, however where possible a permanent repair will be made.

A permanent repair involves cutting out the area around the pothole to make a uniform shape with no jagged edges – usually rectangular.

This hole is then cleaned out and coated with a layer of binder to act as an adhesive. The hole is filled with hot road surfacing material, then raked and compacted. Once this material has cooled, the road can be reopened to traffic.

Transport for Buckinghamshire now also uses a JetPatcher vehicle which is a more efficient way of repairing a number of potholes on the same site. This system blasts material into the pothole at high velocity, following an initial coat of bitumen bonding, which repairs the defect without the need for rollers or loud vibrating tools. Where we have completed road repairs using the JetPatcher vehicle we will pop a card advising residents through their letterbox. 

After periods of snow and sub zero temperatures the number of potholes on roads increases due to the freezethaw cycle. TfB will work through these in the same way.


In some instances the condition of the carriageway may be such that permanent pothole repairs are not possible. In these instances 'plane and patch' treatment or other road surfacing may be the only suitable repair process, if this is the case then this will be programmed in.

If you see a pothole that is in need of repair please use our online reporting tool.

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