Road maintenance

Our Road Maintenance Service carry out carriageway surface dressing work from May to August and the reconstruction of roads throughout the year.

Last year we surface dressed 63 miles of road and resurfaced 40 miles of road. This year we will aim to resurface and maintain 239 miles of roads. Find out how we prioritise which roads to maintain.

Treatment types

Surface dressing is an extremely cost effective way of maintaining a road. It restores skidding resistance and seals the road surface to prevent water ingress

  1. Hot bitumen is sprayed onto the road
  2. Chippings are then applied and rolled in
  3. The road is then swept to remove excessive chippings

Our Road Maintenance Service will carry out carriageway surface dressing work as scheduled.

Micro surfacing is a type of surface treatment that is used to prolong the life of a road by 10 to 15 years.

Micro surfacing is quicker, less noisy and cleaner than traditional resurfacing because it is not necessary to remove large volumes of existing carriageway surface.

The micro surfacing process is as follows:

  1. First the road will be swept clean.
  2. The surface will then be sprayed with a bitumen binder.
  3. This will be followed by the application of a layer of stone chippings.
  4. These chippings will be pressed into the bitumen binder by a road roller.
  5. All lining, including disabled bay and resident H-bar markings, will be replaced 14 days after the work has been fully completed.

Road resurfacing is when part of the old road surface is removed by a process known as ‘planing’ or milling.

Resurfacing is a major road works and we will often have to undertake this work with full or partial road closures. We will always provide advanced notice of this and arrange for plenty of signage of the safest diversion route.

Depending on the existing condition of the road, we will either:

  • remove the top layer, approximately 4cm thick, or 
  • remove a further layer, which would be another 6cm thick

When we have finished the planing, we will:

  • often adjust the levels of the gullies and inspection covers to improve the smoothness or drainage of the road
  • clean the road with a special road sweeper, and
  • spray a bitumen emulsion over it which acts as a "glue" to bond the new tarmac to it

The new tarmac is delivered in special insulated wagons and placed whilst hot onto the road using a specialist tarmac laying machine, called a paver, that spreads the tarmac at a uniform width and thickness along the road. Then:

  • we roll the tarmac to compact it and provide a smooth even driving surface
  • the tarmac needs to cool for a while 
  • the road can be reopened to traffic

Road markings are sometimes replaced prior to the road reopening to traffic, although sometimes they are replaced at a later date for operational reasons.

Find out more about how we have been reducing our carbon emissions through our ex situ carriageway recycling scheme in this short video:

Upcoming programme of works

How we prioritise which roads to maintain

Our road and footpath network is massive and the funding we get is less than we would like, so we need to use it wisely.

In 2014 a long-term plan (Transport and Asset Management Plan) was introduced. The plan says that preventative treatments like surface dressing is needed to address the rate of deterioration of the roads and footpaths, to ensure residents and visitors can continue to access work, shops, and amenities, and of course, to support our emergency services. 

Since 2014 and the introduction of preventative treatment, the total miles of roads that need resurfacing for the ABC network has reduced by approximately 72%.

The animation below shows how we use the ‘Plan’ to prioritise roads and footpaths. 


Note for residents

If you live on a road where we are carrying out resurfacing or surface dressing, you should receive a letter prior to the works taking place. The letter will inform you about what precautions you should take. For example:

Move your vehicles to a safe location

when we put the 'No Parking' signs and cones out. You will be able to return your vehicle outside our working hours, but we need the road to be clear whilst we are working on the highway. 

If your vehicle is left on the road


we will try to contact you initially, but if we are unable to contact you and the vehicle has to be towed away, unfortunately this may be at your cost.  

Keep windows and doors closed

Beware dust

as there maybe dust from our works. 

Keep children and pets away


from the working area for their safety and to keep them and your homes clean. 

Signs will provide information about the date and time of work.

  • There will be 'Speed reduction' signs in place for the duration of the work and until the final sweep has taken place. We advise that you keep to the indicated speed limit until the signs are removed.
  • Before getting into your car or entering your home, please check that you and your family do not have bitumen on your shoes; it may be necessary to remove them before entering your property. 
  • If, in spite of these precautions, you get bitumen on your clothes or shoes, it can be removed with a proprietary cleaner. 
  • In the case of business premises, we are obliged to maintain access, but as there are no practical ways in which we can cover the treated surfaces and cannot prevent people from walking on them, we suggest you place a temporary covering inside your premises.