One in eight local roads face closure amidst pothole spikeThu, 29/03/2018
A recent report on UK roads finds 24,000 miles of road need urgent maintenance as local authorities face £556 million shortfall.
Hugo Griffiths, AutoExpress, reports:
Local roads in the UK are facing a “tidal wave” of deterioration, as authorities struggle with a £556 million annual funding shortfall. This could see 12 per cent of local roads close within 12 months if urgent repair works aren’t carried out.
The “staggering” report also flags one in five local roads in need of maintenance within the next five years, while a “one time catch up” batch of repairs to fix our failing roads would cost £9.31 billion and take 14 years to complete.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) annual report acknowledges government investment in the UK's 204,000 miles of local roads, at £1.2 billion a year, is at its highest level in a decade. Around 17.9 million potholes have also been filled - at a cost exceeding £1 billion - over the last decade. Yet the AIA's chairman, Rick Green, says budgets have "barely kept in line with inflation".
One unnamed local authority highways official told the report’s authors: “It feels like I am playing Russian roulette: each year we question whether we will receive enough funding to keep our roads in a steady state.” Another said a “tidal wave of deterioration” was on the horizon.
Average funding for local roads is around £2,100 per mile – compared to £1.1 million per mile for the Highways England-managed 4,300-mile strategic road network of motorways and major trunk roads.
That funding disparity means local authorities are facing difficulty attracting contractors to bid for road projects, according to one industry expert. James Haluch, managing director of highways for construction giant Amey, previously said: “We’re seeing that local authorities are struggling to get contractors to bid."
Commenting on the report, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “This latest report clearly highlights that the shortfall between what councils need to fix the roads, and the cash they actually have at their disposal, is as enormous as ever.
Lyes said the UK’s pothole problem required “fresh thinking”, adding: “Short term funding and creating pots by which local authorities can bid for cash doesn’t appear to be addressing the root cause of the problem. Instead, the Government should be looking at how it can guarantee councils the certainty of reliable long-term funding so that they can finally bring every road up to a standard road users think is acceptable.
The recent bad weather, with copious amounts of snow and ice, have undoubtedly escalated the deterioriation of the roads, making it more important than ever to ensure roads are maintained to keep road users safe.