Great plans on paper, but the potholes refuse to go away

Monsoon and a cut in utility maintenance are the key contributors to the pothole menace in Bengaluru. Here is how to overcome it.

Plenty of manuals and guidelines are available that list out various steps to be followed to ensure quality in road construction. The problem is the unwillingness to enforce these guidelines at the time of construction.

Just to list some factors which affect the quality of road construction:

  • Inadequate bitumen content in the mix
  • Overheating of bitumen during mixing process
  • Inadequate compaction during construction
  • Stripping of bitumen from aggregates (Aggregates are raw materials that are produced from natural sources , including gravel, crushed stone, and sand. When used with a binding medium, like water, cement, and asphalt, they are used to form compound materials, such as asphalt concrete and Portland cement concrete )
  • Construction during cold and wet weather
  • Use of inferior quality aggregates prone to fracture
  • Use of absorptive aggregates
  • Excessive ageing of binder
  • Improper filler / bitumen ratio
  • Traffic stresses exceeding the strength of mixes
condition of road during rain
Grey foam or Scum on Bengaluru roads. Pic: Pavan Srinath

Read more: How Bengaluru roads can be free of potholes: Discussion highlights


Prevention is better than filling potholes

Like afflictions, the roads need to be properly maintained to avoid severe pothole formations. Paying heed to the following things can be a great help in the prevention of pits. So, road constructors need not resort to pothole filling material on a regular basis.

  • Utility cut management
  • Proper drainage amenities
  • Seal asphalt cracks and ruts
  • Survey and periodic analysis for pavement distress

BBMP had engaged a pothole repair company technology called Python. The issue was that there was only one machine for the whole of Bengaluru.

The following are the pre-monsoon preparations to avoid road damages:

Drain network mapping with gradient corrections keeping good drop levels into the disposal drains.
Maintenance of shoulder drains by keeping its lower gradient from roads and de-silting them regularly.

  • De-silting SWDs
  • Profile correction of roads to road-side drains
Caved in road due to flooding
Road caves in where water eventually gets to the drain at Nagarabhavi. Pic courtesy: Vaidya R

Utility cuts:

Unfortunately, for a city like Bengaluru, the early town planners haven’t planned for a separate duct or canal or utility corridor, everything has been buried below the roads.

Sewage connection for Road Side propertiesBWSSB Maintenance
Water connection for roadside propertiesBWSSB Maintenance
One Sewage sub main   BWSSB WWM
Lateral sewage connections from the residential blocksBWSSB Maintenance 
HT power distributionBESCOM
Telephone backboneBSNL
HT MainKPTCL
Roadside drainsBBMP Major Roads
Secondary drain Culvert BBMP SWD
Defence lines dedicatedWater, Power, Telecom
Urban utilities in Bengaluru work in silos. A dissection of an arterial road and its cross-section will consist of the following, and are managed by separate agencies. Table courtesy: Raghu Rajagopal

The parastatals are under the mercy of BBMP to conduct maintenance of their utilities or to upgrade or add to their network. Utility agencies finish their job without road restoration or they do not have enough expertise to patch the roads.

These factors cause potholes, which can be fatal.

Planned development in Bengaluru
Sample of a busy junction with utilities underneath. Pic courtesy: Raghu Rajagopal

Read more: Urban Utilities Map Beku: What lies beneath Bengaluru’s roads


Remedial Action by BBMP

According to anonymous sources within the BBMP, the corporation has made an innovative app fixmystreet, wherein public, traffic cops, and officials can report potholes with geolocation. These are taken up for repairs by the respective zones. Action taken will be updated in the app.

BBMP has made an inhouse cold mix plant to address pothole issues during the monsoon . This cold mix is available in 25kg bags. It is adhesive in nature, which can be spread on the road to fix a pothole.

BBMP has an AMC (Annual maintenance Contract) for regular maintenance of roads and footpaths making it both user-friendly for motorists and pedestrians.

BBMP, along with its inhouse hot-mix plant, has arranged to procure hot bitumen mix from four other agencies covering six zones for easy, efficient, and immediate redressal of problems. This all sounds great on paper. But the potholes just refuse to go away. 

(Part 1 in the series looked at the types of potholes and the underlying causes)

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