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
“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
“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.”