It will take 14 years to clear the current backlog of road repairs across England thanks to ‘decades of underfunding’, a new report has warned.
The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey found the cost to get roads back to a ‘reasonable condition’ across England and Wales stands at around £12bn. Councils in England would need an extra £88m each to carry out the work and yet they are faced with an average annual carriageway maintenance budget shortfall of £5.3m.
‘The network is ageing and the cumulative effect of decades of underfunding is continuing to take its toll,’ said Alan Mackenzie, chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, which produces the survey.
‘Add in the impacts of flooding and increased traffic and you start to appreciate the scale of the problem our local authorities are facing.’
He praised councils for having a ‘more preventative approach’ that had allowed them to ‘work smarter with less money’. For example, the survey found the cost of fixing a single pothole as part of a planned programme was almost 18% cheaper than a reactive repair.
He added: ‘However, our roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than they can be repaired and more significant problems for the future are building unseen below the surface. It is clear that there is still not enough money available to tackle the backlog of repairs needed to get our road network back into anything approaching a reasonable condition.’
Cllr Peter Box, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association, said: ‘Local authorities are proving remarkably efficient in how they use this diminishing funding pot but they remain trapped in a frustrating cycle that will only ever leave them able to patch up our deteriorating roads.
‘Councils share the frustration of motorists having to pay to drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our polling shows that 83% of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.
‘Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The Government’s own traffic projections predict a potential increase in local traffic of more than 40% by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade.’