A NEW road surface made from recycled tyres is cracking up just two months after being laid.
The material, known as Colsoft, is designed to reduce road noise and is being tried out on two routes in Surrey.
But the two sections of road, in Ewell and Hersham, already have holes in the surfacing where the material has come away.
Engineers from specialist contractor Colas, which laid the surface, are investigating the cause of the failure.
Colas spokesman Andrew Fitchett said: 'I do not think the engineers know what the problem is yet.'
Mr Fitchett added that, since this was the first live trial of Colsoft in the UK, some problems could be expected.
He said a test area of the surface - laid at the Transport Research Laboratory in Crowthorne, Berkshire, in July 1997 - had not shown any similar flaws. However, he declined to comment further until the investigation was complete.
Transport Research Laboratory engineers also declined to speculate on the likely causes for the failure, saying their trials were to do with noise levels, not durability and performance.
Colas's French parent company developed the material in 1994 and it has been used extensively in France since 1996.
It is laid in a thin asphalt layer which contains crumbs of rubber reclaimed from tyres. Mr Fitchett said that the material's expected lifespan was 10 to 12 years.
Surrey County Council's principal highway maintenance engineer, George Kovacs, said that, although he was disappointed that there were problems with the surface, the trials were necessary as part of the council's ongoing quest to find quieter road surfaces.
He said: 'We take a bit of a risk to be a leader. Otherwise you could just sit back and wait for years and years before reading about
developments being pioneered elsewhere.'
Residents living by the roads have confirmed that Colsoft produces less noise than standard surfacing.