Flame-spewing ‘dragon’ is recruited to repair potholes

Left, Simon White, Skanska operations director with Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport in front of the pothole-busting 'dragon-patcher'
Left, Simon White, Skanska operations director with Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport in front of the pothole-busting 'dragon-patcher'
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A ‘FIRE-BREATHING’ pothole-busting machine is set to take to Hampshire’s roads next month as part of a new fleet of vehicles looking to fix the sorry state of the county’s highways.

The 18-tonne ‘dragon patcher’ is part of the new fleet unveiled by Hampshire County Council which will be deployed across the area’s roads over the next seven years.

The machine – named because of its nozzle that blasts potholes with flames – is already in use in other parts of the UK.

Highways contractor Skanska claims the vehicle can repair defects five times quicker than other methods, slashing the cost of fixing potholes from £70 to £10 each.

Councillor Rob Humby, the county council’s environment and transport boss, said the new deal was a way of ensuring Hampshire’s road network will be able to meet demand and traffic increases.

He said: ‘Good roads are critical to Hampshire’s future economic prospects and the quality of life of all who live and work here.

‘With around 96 per cent of all journeys made on foot, or by cycle, bus or car, it is vital we continue to provide long-lasting, quality maintenance work that is good value for money – and I am confident Hampshire highways will deliver this.’

Skanska’s innovative pothole-patching machine fires flames from a hydraulic arm to de-ice and dry out the road surface.

It is then cleaned with compressed air and sealed with a stone mix and hot bitumen emulsion. With the surface repair completed in two minutes, the patcher can move on to the next repair.

The new contract, which officially starts on August 1, covers highways maintenance work on Hampshire’s 9,600 miles of roads and footways, including resurfacing, winter salting, drainage and road repairs.