New Department for Transport (DfT) statistics underline the unprecedented demands being placed on our deteriorating local road network which, due to decades of under investment, is facing a £9.3 billion backlog of pothole repairs and is simply not up to the job reports the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).
According to the recently published ‘Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2017’, the total number of vehicle miles travelled grew by 1.3% in 2017 to 327.1 billion up from 323.7 in 2016. DfT predicts that this could reach 425.1 billion by 2040, a further 30% increase in traffic. This will have a significant impact on the condition of our poorly maintained roads.
Since 2016, traffic on ‘A’ road has increased 1.1% and by 1.4% on minor roads. Combined, the local network carried 66% of all traffic. Yet, despite this the motorway network receives 52 times more funding than local roads.
Despite the significant increase in traffic the level of funding investment to ensure that the local road network can cope is woefully inadequate. The latest Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM), published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, found that the rate of deterioration of the local road network is accelerating. 1 in 5 roads may need to be replaced within the next 5 years, it would cost £9.31 billion and take 14 years to bring the local road network up to a reasonable standard.
“As traffic levels increase so do the demands being placed on an under-funded road network”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive. “The lack of adequate assured funding for local road maintenance has resulted in a network where one in five roads, a significant 20%, may need replacing by 2023 – and that is just to cope with current traffic levels.”
“The government’s own figures show how the vast majority of traffic uses the local road network. They underline the need for greater investment in long-term programmes of preventative road maintenance rather than expensive patching-up,” explained Robinson who pointed out that it costs only £2m2 to surface dress and maintain a road but costs an average £52m2 to repair potholes.