A new report has found that 17 per cent of roads across England and Wales can be considered ‘poor’ – meaning they will need to be repaired within the next five years. The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey estimates that the cost to get roads back into reasonable condition has risen from £11.8bn in 2015/16 to £12.06bn in 2016/17.
Road Safety GB reports that the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) commissioned survey of highways departments this year received a response from 63 per cent of local authorities.
17 per cent of England’s road network (excluding London) was found to be in poor condition, compared to 16 per cent in London and 18 per cent in Wales. These figures represent year-on-year rises of four per cent in England and London and 12 per cent in Wales.
The estimated one-time catch-up cost to get roads back into reasonable condition has risen from £11.8bn in 2015/16 to £12.06bn in 2016/17.
The funding gap has however narrowed and the estimated time to clear the maintenance backlog dropped from 14 years in 2015/16 to 12 years in 2016/17.
AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie has previously said that more funding will be needed to tackle the maintenance backlog.
In January, the government announced £1.2bn in roads funding, including a £50m a year Pothole Action Fund, which was described by Cycling UK as “the equivalent of using a sticking plaster to fix a broken leg.”
Reacting to the latest survey, Mackenzie said:
“Behind the smokescreen of big numbers aggregated over several years to make them sound impressive, lies decades of underfunding which, coupled with the effects of increased traffic and wetter winters on an ageing network, means one in six of our local roads will not be fit for purpose in five years’ time.
“Furthermore, the gap that exists between the amount local authority highway teams received this year and the amount they say they need to keep the carriageway in reasonable order is £730m.
“Excluding London, the shortfall for English councils alone is £570m – almost half as much again as the DfT has pledged for 2017/18.
“The message from the research which informs ALARM is that highway teams simply do not have enough money to arrest the terminal decline in the condition of our local roads and the network is not resilient enough to meet the challenges ahead.”