M25 sign

During a time where the British Retail Consortium is reporting above average retail figures, all the more important for trucks to be on the roads and delivering goods into stores, one of the busiest roads in the UK, the M25, came to a standstill on Sunday (14 July).

Unable to take the heat on one of the warmest days of the year, a busy section of the motorway melted and cracked across three lanes. Operators reported detours of up to three hours for journeys that would normally take just 30 minutes when the carriageway at junction 23 (Potters Bar) disintegrated. But why did it happen?

Roads expert and chief executive at the Road Surface Treatments Association, Dr Howard Robinson, suggested the section of road affected was likely to be made of asphalt, a surface that when it begins to soften at 50C.With air temperature in the shade at around 30C, road temperature in direct sunlight is likely to have been much higher, causing it to crack.

Robinson said surfaces that can withstand higher temperatures and only start to soften at 80C are on the market, but are relatively expensive and are only used on roughly 5% of roads in the UK.

Roads minister Stephen Hammond has said the government is planning on resurfacing 80% of the UK's roads. Lets hope that it will choose surfaces that are more tolerant of both direct sunlight as well as the ice and snow that causes roads to crack in winter.