The £15 billion roads investment for the motorways and strategic road network (SRN) announced ahead of tomorrow’s Autumn Statement is a loud headline that ignores the £12 billion needed to repair the deteriorating local road network.
The Roads Investment Strategy, announced by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, will see spending levels tripled by the end of the decade in order to increase the capacity and the condition of England’s strategic roads.
“The investment commitment to update and improve our motorways and trunk roads is welcomed and the Investment Strategy certainly contains attention grabbing headlines of over 100 new road schemes to be built over this parliament and the next”, said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). “However, the Strategy also underlines the historic lack of investment that has resulted in traffic congestion and road surface deterioration”.
The Strategy acknowledges that a large percentage of the SRN’s road surface will came to the end of its performance life over the next five years and has set aside £6 billion to resurface 80% of the SRN.
“The funding for resurfacing and maintenance of the SRN is welcomed but what of the local road network?” asked Robinson. “Despite the best efforts of local highway authorities struggling with limited budgets, the local road network continues to deteriorate. Some £12 billion is essential to bring the neglected local road network up to standard.”
He continued: “There is little point in trumpeting investment in the strategic road network if the local roads used to reach and connect the motorways and trunk roads continue to be plagued with potholes.”