Summer roads’ programme protects against winter deterioration

Published Date: 

14 Aug 2019 - 16:37

Close to half a million square metres of road throughout Argyll and Bute will be surface dressed over the summer to reduce the chance of new potholes developing as the weather deteriorates over winter.

This is part of the council’s £16m capital reconstruction programme which has seen Argyll and Bute reach the top five fastest improving Scottish Local Authorities in terms of road condition.

Surface dressing targets areas in the earlier stages of deterioration, improves skid resistance, helps seal cracks and prevents water ingress. This protects previous investment and extends the life of the roads.

Another benefit of surface dressing is that the road usually does not have to be closed during the treatment. Convoys or stop and go systems can be put in place to keep traffic moving.

Newly dressed roads are mechanically swept after the treatment, for up to 30 days, and line markings are replaced afterwards.

It takes several days or weeks for chips to fully embed into the road surface, which is why there are warning signs advising drivers that the speed limit is 20 mph. Keeping to that speed limit should prevent damage to vehicles.

Work is carried out during warmer months to ensure that the binder in the surface dressing process sets and also to allow the chips to embed into the surface below. Carrying out the work when traffic flow is heaviest ensures the chips are embedded into the surface.

Councillor Ellen Morton, Depute Policy Lead for Amenity Services, said: “Our aim in allocating additional investment to our roads was to ensure that Argyll and Bute is open for business. I appreciate that surface dressing is a highly contentious subject. Our experience shows this is clearly proving to be the most cost-effective way of looking after our roads at a time when funding is tight.

“We are responsible for 2,930 km of carriageway. But we have evidence that the network is improving and we are committed to do all we can, within the means we have, to continue in this upward direction.”

Full details of the roads capital programme for 2019/20 can be found on the council website here: This provides a schedule of work on roads and footways, and indicative timescales, for the rest of the financial year. Progress on each scheme is updated at the end of each month.