Seventeen per cent of all local roads are in poor structural condition, with less than five years of life remaining, according to this year’s annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey.
The survey, produced by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), reveals the issue has been caused by an ageing network, decades of underfunding, increased traffic and wetter winters.
Those roads identified as being in poor condition “will not be fit for purpose in five years’ time” and some may have to close, researchers warned.
The RAC says it’s unsurprising that drivers feel “short-changed” by their day-to-day experiences on the roads, bearing in mind what they contribute to their maintenance.
The AIA’s annual road maintenance survey found that the number of potholes filled by councils fell by 19% in England last year, with the biggest drop in London at 43%.
According to the study, local authorities need over £12 billion of funding to bring the road network up to scratch.
By 2022, these poorly conditioned roads (17% of the network) “will not be fit for purpose” and many may be forced into closure.
Chairman Alan Mackenzie warns that with no significant increase in funding, clearing the maintenance backlog remains an impossibility.
Mackenzie said: “Local authority highway teams do not have enough resources to arrest the terminal decline in the condition of our local roads and the network is not resilient enough to meet the challenges ahead.
“Despite this, the efficiencies they have achieved in recent years through adopting an asset management approach should be applauded.
“Working smarter, greater collaboration and improved communication are all contributing to their ability to do more with less – though of course there will come a point when there are no further efficiency savings to be found”.
The Department for Transport has committed £6 billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50 million-a-year fund specifically for tackling potholes.
It has unveiled plans for high-definition cameras to be fitted to council bin lorries to spot road surface problems, which can be treated before they become potholes.