A12

By Roddy AshworthTHE safety of part of a major road has been called into question following fears about a type of surfacing used.A 3.5-mile stretch of the A12 between Feering and Marks Tey was resurfaced between September and December last year.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE safety of part of a major road has been called into question following fears about a type of surfacing used.

A 3.5-mile stretch of the A12 between Feering and Marks Tey was resurfaced between September and December last year.

But a set of hazard signs has been put at each end of the stretch warning drivers there was a skid risk on the new section of road.


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It emerged yesterday that the road has been laid with thin asphalt surfacing, which has been blamed for contributing to accidents in its “bedding in” period because of alleged poor friction.

The apparent problem is caused when the surface is new and the binding agent in the asphalt covers up the stones designed to provide the skid resistance.

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Eventually, after a year or so, traffic wears down the binding agent so that the stones protrude, providing good friction for braking.

Concerns about the skid resistance of thin asphalt surfacing led the Republic of Ireland to ban its use on roads with a speed limit of more than 30 mph - the stretch of the A12 on which thin asphalt surfacing has been laid has a maximum speed of 70mph.

Paul Watters, a spokesman for the AA Motoring Trust, said: “It makes you wonder whether there should be a temporary speed limit - liability wise they may need to guard themselves.

“I understand one traffic policeman was investigating an accident which happened on recently laid thin asphalt surfacing. He went out and did a skid test on an area of road and there was virtually no grip.”

He added: “Once the stones start to protrude through the binder the surface should be as good as a new road. It's just that the surface binder has to be eroded from the top.

“We know that 20% of main roads have skid resistance that needs investigating in any case. The thin asphalt surfacing issue needs looking into.”

But a spokeswoman for the Highways Agency defended the A12 surface, saying the skid resistance was higher than it had been before the resurfacing.

“We use road surfacing materials which are safe and rigorously tested. Low-noise surfacing is widely used across Britain and Europe and provides good adhesion for vehicles and has a proven safety record,” she added.

“Newly-laid surfacing can exhibit lower skid resistance in its first months of life, which could be due to the binder film that initially coats the aggregate particles - the granite stones - which provide friction in the surfacing.

“Advice was issued to our contractors in 2003, telling them to test skid resistance and put out slippery road alert signs at affected locations as a precautionary measure.”

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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