The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has released its annual ALARM survey, which provides a detailed picture of the condition of the local road network.
Every year the AIA commissions an independent survey of local authority highway departments in England and Wales, with the aim of creating a snapshot of the general condition of the local road network, based on information provided directly by those responsible for its maintenance, thus providing a means of tracking improvement or deterioration.
At the same time, the AIA asks questions related to funding, the type of maintenance carried out and the issues affecting maintenance service levels, to help provide context to the results.
ALARM 2017, the AIA’s 22nd annual survey, reported that local authority highways departments estimated that the time required, given adequate funding and resources, to bring the network up to scratch would be 14 years and would cost £11.8 billion.
Responding to the survey, Cllr Judith Blake, Transport spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: “It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the roads crisis we face as a nation. Our roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than can be repaired and it would take more than £12 billion and be 2030 before we could bring them up to scratch and clear the current roads repair backlog.
“Local authorities fixed a pothole every 19 seconds again last year despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing our crumbling roads. Councils 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 drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our polling has shown that 83 per cent of those polled would support a small amount of the billions paid to 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 projections show a 85.5 per cent increase in congestion by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network needs over the next decade.”
Alan Mackenzie, Chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), commented: “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.”
View the full 2017 ALARM survey (external link: PDF).