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A recent survey by the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) has highlighted a funding gap between the number of roads in England and Wales in desperate need of repair and the reality of the cost to get them in a suitable condition.

While the number of roads classed as good has increased, so has the number classed as poor. Therefore, highway engineers are concerned that this gap will not be reduced and will continue to worsen without an adequate injection of finance.

Alan Mackenzie, Chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), comments on the Local Government Association statement on 2017 potentially becoming a tipping point for local roads: Prolonged under investment, coupled with wetter winters, increased traffic and an ageing network, means that the resilience of our local roads is at a low point. Clearing the maintenance backlog is impossible without a significant increase in funding.

The fact remains that our local road network receives only a fraction of the funding allocated to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and this disparity needs to be tackled proactively if further decline is to be prevented.

Reallocating a few pence from existing fuel duty might prove an equitable way of turning the tide, as could previous calls for Vehicle Excise Duty to be redirected to local roads from 2021. Either way, the LGA is right that time is running out and that local roads maintenance should now be a national priority.

The Department for Transport said: “It is vital councils keep our roads in a good condition to deliver better journeys for drivers.

“We are providing councils more than £6bn over six years to maintain roads and repair potholes. On top of this, we announced last autumn an additional £1.1bn to upgrade and repair roads for communities across England.”

Other highlights showed:

  • 1 in 6 local roads may need to be replaced in the next 5 years
  • One-time catch-up cost: £12.06 billion
  • One pothole is filled every 19 seconds
  • Annual carriageway shortfall: £730m