ALARM: Half of road network has less than 15 years left

More than half of the local road network in England and Wales is reported to have less than 15 years’ structural life left as the amount needed to fix the backlog of carriageway repairs increases to a record high of £16.3 billion. 

This year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, highlights the scale of the challenge that faces local authority highway teams. Despite government commitments for new cash, and local authority highways teams reporting an increase in maintenance budgets, the rising costs of inflation have meant they have to do more with less.

The increasing number of extreme weather events has also accelerated the rate of decline. ALARM data shows that only 47% of roads in England and Wales are classed as being in good structural condition, with the remaining 53% – more than 107,000 miles – now having less than 15 years’ structural life remaining.

Despite a 40% increase in the number of potholes filled over the last 12 months adding to the existing patchwork of previous repairs, surface conditions have also declined.

The survey is the 29th undertaken and received responses from 72% of local authorities in England and Wales. It reports local road funding and conditions based on information provided directly by those responsible for their maintenance. 

Local authorities would have needed an additional £1.22 billion to reach their own target road conditions with the total backlog currently at £16.3 billion to bring the network up to an effective standard.

Less than half (47%) of all local roads are reported to be in good structural condition meaning the remaining 107,000 miles (53%) could continue to deteriorate to the point of needing to be rebuilt within the next 15 years. £143.5 million has been spent filling in 2 million potholes over the last 12 months, it reported.

Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: “It’s clear that there is still a mountain to climb when it comes to improving the condition of our local roads, which are a key asset on which we all rely, every day.

“The Government has recognised that fixing our roads is about more than filling in potholes with its announcement of the additional Network North funding in England. But, while the Transport Secretary stated that this additional £8.3 billion over 11 years is enough to resurface 5,000 miles of local roads, this equates to just 2.5% of the network – or less than 0.25% per year.

“Unfortunately, it will do little to address the scale of the issue with ALARM findings reporting that 11% of local roads are already in poor condition and likely to require maintenance in the next 12 months alone.

“That said, English authorities would be in an even worse position without this additional funding, so we sincerely hope that this promise is delivered on and that the Welsh Government honours its commitments to prioritising highway maintenance.”

Image courtesy of the AIA

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