A new report has found that 17% of roads across England and Wales are in ‘poor’ condition, meaning they need to be repaired within the next five years.
Published today (28 March), the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey estimates that 17% of England’s road network (excluding London) is in poor structural condition, compared to 16% in London and 18% in Wales.
These figures represent a year-on-year rise of 12% in Wales, 4% in England (excluding London) and 4% in London.
Each year the Asphalt Industry Alliance (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. This year 63% of local authorities responded to the survey.
The report also finds that the estimated one-time catch-up cost to get roads in England and Wales back into reasonable condition has risen from £11.8bn in 2015/16, to £12.06bn in 2016/17.
Despite this rise, the survey did however find that the funding gap narrowed last year between what local highway teams received and what they actually needed to repair and maintain roads.
An average annual carriageway maintenance budget shortfall of £4.3m per authority does however mean that councils were still £729.9m short of what was required to keep the network in ‘reasonable order’ during 2015/16.
The report also found that the estimated time to clear the carriageway maintenance backlog in England and Wales dropped from 14 years in 2015/16, to 12 years in 2016/17.
In terms of potholes, the report finds that the average number of potholes filled over the past year stood at 1,748,916 (fewer than the previous year), at a cost of £102.3m.
In January, the Government announced plans to invest £1.2bn on roads during 2017/18, which includes repair and maintenance.
Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, 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.”
Photo: _chrisUK via Flickr. Use under Creative Commons.