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Local roads crisis: One in five will need repair or closure due to poor condition

Local roads crisis: One in five will need repair or closure due to poor condition

One in six local roads in England and Wales will need to be repaired or closed, within the next five years, according to the 2017 survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance.  

The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (ALARM) survey of the condition of local road surfaces highlights that local authorities need more than £12 billion to bring the network up to scratch and, given adequate funding and resources. Furthermore, it will take well over a decade to implement the one-time catch up, it is claimed.  

English and Welsh local authorities are reporting a shortfall in funding totalling nearly £730 million a year - the equivalent of £4.3 million per council.  

It is calculated that an estimated one-time catch-up cost in England of £85.7 million is needed per authority - to get roads back into reasonable condition (£21.4 million in London; £26.9 million in Wales).  

The survey aims to take a snapshot of the general condition of the local road network, providing a means of tracking any improvement or deterioration.
 
The cumulative effect of an ageing network, decades of underfunding, increased traffic and wetter winters has led to around 17% of all local roads reported as being in poor structural condition, with less than five years of life remaining.  

Councillor Judith Blake, transport spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: “It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the roads crisis we face as a nation. Our roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than can be repaired and it would take more than £12 billion and be 2030 before we could bring them up to scratch and clear the current roads repair backlog.   

“Local authorities fixed a pothole every 19 seconds again last year despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing our crumbling roads. Councils are proving remarkably efficient in how they use this diminishing funding pot but they remain trapped in a frustrating cycle that will only ever leave them able to patch up our deteriorating roads.  

“Councils share the frustration of motorists having to drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our polling has shown that 83% of those polled would support a small amount of the billions paid to the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.

“Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The government’s own projections show a 85.5% increase in congestion by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network needs over the next decade.”  
Edmund King, AA president said: “It is clear that the plague of potholes isn’t going to be filled anytime soon. Even before getting to a main road drivers are using pothole-riddled roads, which they would be lucky to see resurfaced in their lifetime as it takes councils 87 years to get round to it.

“Councils are also picking up the tab for the failure of utilities companies who leave the roads in an unsuitable condition after carrying out their repairs. 10% of a councils’ road maintenance budget is lost trying to patch up the failings of others.  

“With £6 million paid in compensation, each local council has missed the chance to fill 30,000 potholes. A third (32%) of our members have told us that they have experienced car damage caused by potholes within the last two years.  

”The government needs to confront the funding shortfall head on and help fund repairs and resurfacing work quicker. If not our streets will continue to resemble Swiss cheese rather than smooth highways.”