A pothole happens when the surface of a road or footpath has been worn away and a hollow forms.
As the road surface ages it becomes more porous, and rainwater gets in through cracks. In wet weather the pressure created by traffic passing over the area forces water further down into the road surface, weakening it.
In winter, as the temperature changes between freezing and thawing, there is a faster deterioration of road surfaces, because the water filling cracks freezes and expands, loosening chunks of the surface material.
Once a pothole has formed it will quickly grow as traffic continually dislodges and removes weakened and broken pieces of the surface.
Somerset County Council inspectors check roads, footways and cycleways for potholes regularly. Quieter routes are inspected less often.
How long it takes Somerset CC to repair a pothole and prioritising repairs
When you report a pothole it is inspected within 3 working days and a repair will be planned if it meets the intervention levels set out in Somerset CC’s Highway Safety Inspection Manual. In some cases Somerset CC may do a temporary repair and a permanent repair will be carried out within 28 days.
Pothole repairs are prioritised depending on their size and where they are. We also take into account the amount and speed of traffic using the road, and where the pothole is in the road.
As a general rule, potholes in the road that are 40mm deep will be repaired within 28 days, the same timeframe as for potholes on a footway or cycleway that are 20mm deep. These response times are reduced to 24 hours for busy A and B roads and town centres.