Local authorities will receive £348m over the next four years to improve the quality of local roads – with potholes and congestion among the target areas.
Announced on 20 July, the funding will be available for local authorities to bid for, allowing them to work on major maintenance projects, as well as on projects that will ease congestion.
Chris Grayling, transport secretary, said: “Local roads are the backbone of the transport network for drivers up and down the country, but we know that some aren’t up to the standard they need to be.
“Whether it’s congestion or quality, we need to empower local authorities to invest in these roads and make journeys safer and stress-free.”
In addition, the DfT is making £2m available to help improve the condition of local roads through the use of ‘innovative’ artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
The technology will analyse the quality of approximately 100,000 miles of road, with a focus on road markings, giving the DfT a ‘clearer-than-ever’ picture of where investment is needed.
Mr Grayling added: “Road markings play a vital role in keeping everyone who is using the road safe, so making sure they’re up to standard is imperative.”
Local roads – still the ‘poor relation’ within transport?
There has been long-standing concern over Britain’s local road network – and in August 2018, the Transport Committee launched an inquiry into the funding and governance of such roads.
Giving evidence to the inquiry in April 2019, then road safety minister Jesse Norman admitted that the local road network was the ‘poor relation’ within transport.
Mr Norman said the local road network was ‘not in a great state’, adding that the Government must ‘up its game’ to improve its condition.
Mr Norman’s evidence also following the publishing of an annual survey, which suggests the number of roads considered to be in ‘poor condition’ increased in 2018.
The 2019 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, published in March, concludes 21% of roads in England have less than five years’ life remaining – up from 18% the previous year.
The survey estimates the ‘one-time catch-up cost’ to get roads in England and Wales back into reasonable condition has risen to £9.79bn – a slight increase from the £9.31bn reported in 2018.