One in five local roads are ‘structurally poor’ and could fail completely if not repaired within the next year, a new report has found.
Local authorities in England and Wales have said that more than 24,400 miles of road need essential work urgently carried out on them to stay operational.
They also reported, as part of the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey, that the deficit between the amount of funding they received and the actual cost of keeping the highways in a reasonable working order was close to £556 million – or £3.3 million for every authority.
It would now take 14 years to get local roads back into a reasonable steady state, provided adequate funds and resources were available. A year, that figure was 12 years.
The report, compiled by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), finds that average highway maintenance budgets in England and Wales have gone up from £17.1m in the 2017 ALARM report to £20.6m this time.
The Department for Transport’s local highway maintenance funding for English authorities is now around £1.2 billion a year – the highest it has been in more than a decade. Local authorities also get other central government funds from devolution deals and local enterprise partnerships, as well as funding from their own sources. Despite all this, the total spend is still way short of the amount needed to halt the decline, the AIA concludes.
Simon Benson, spokesman for AA Cars, said: “With the government allocating significantly smaller budgets for highway maintenance, the country’s roads are suffering and we’ve seen a sharp decline in the number of potholes repaired each year since 2014.
Rick Green, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, which produced the survey, said local authority budgets had “barely kept in line with inflation”, and that this was now “reflected in the road condition”.
He added: “We accept that there is no magic wand to wave, nor is there a bottomless pot of money to tap into.
“There are difficult choices to be made at both local and national level, but the government needs to provide adequate funding for a well-maintained and safe local road network if it wants to support communities and drive economic growth.”
Meanwhile, a study by Kwik Fit found that potholes cost UK drivers £915 million in repairs over the past year – an increase of 34 per cent on the figure from two years ago.
In the past 24 months, the number of drivers whose cars have suffered pothole-related damage has risen from 6.3 million to 8.2 million, the survey of 2,049 adults discovered.
The full ALARM 2018 report is available at www.asphaltuk.org