The results of a new survey suggest the ‘one-time cost’ to get roads in England and Wales back into reasonable condition is now £11.8bn.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA) Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey for 2016 estimates that 13% of England’s road network (excluding London) is in poor structural condition, compared to 12% in London and 6% in Wales.
The report also says the length of time it will take to clear the carriageway maintenance backlog is 14 years, a year longer than predicted in the 2015 report.
Each year the AIA commissions the survey of highways departments in all local authorities in England and Wales to build a picture of the general condition of local roads.
It says the 2016 survey paints ‘an unsettling picture’ and indicates that ‘further decline lies ahead for our local roads’.
The survey highlights that in England (excluding London) during 2015/16, the average local authority highway maintenance budget saw a 16% year-on-year decrease – from £23.4m to £19.8m. However, the figures for London and Wales both rose; London up 20% to £9m and Wales up to £7.8m from £7m.
The report also estimates that the total shortfall in annual carriageway maintenance budget is £791m, an average of £4.6m per authority.
The RAC has described the findings as disappointing but not surprising.
David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, said: “While around £1bn a year has been allocated by central government for local roads in England between now and 2020, their condition appears to be getting worse rather than better.
“It’s time for the Government to recognise that local roads are a vital part of the transport infrastructure which should be brought into the scope of the Infrastructure Commission so that they are rightly treated as a long-term strategic asset.
“While the Government’s Road Investment Strategy is ensuring the future ‘fitness-for-purpose’ of the strategic road network in England there is a very real danger that local roads will suffer ongoing decline through insufficient investment and no long-term strategy to improve them.
“What use would it be having excellent motorways, major roads, railways, ports and airports if, when getting to or from them, you are faced with pothole-ridden, crumbling local roads where, of course, all journeys start and finish?”
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