The latest survey of the state of the UK’s highways has revealed that 20% of the country’s roads only have five years before they will become unusable or their surfaces need to be renewed.
The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), says that £14 billion of funding is needed to fix the backlog of road repairs – an increase of 11% from 2022. Potholes remain one of the key areas of concern. According to the ALARM report, 1.4 million potholes were filled over the last year, equivalent to one every 22 seconds – but still 1.7 million less than the previous year.
The surface of over 100,000 miles of roads could deteriorate without maintenance to the point where they would need to be completely rebuilt within 15 years; 37,000 miles, representing a fifth of the UK’s road network, is predicted to only have five years left before reaching the end of its functional life.
Highway maintenance budgets in England and Wales are higher than they have ever been – averaging at £25.8 million per authority. But this is still significantly less than what authorities say they need to meet their target conditions. Additional funding of £200 million for councils to use on fixing potholes was announced in last month’s Budget.
“Potholes and the condition of our local roads remain key issues for the public and the Chancellor went someway to recognising this in his spring Budget,” said Rick Green, chair of the AIA. “But the additional £200m one-off payment for local roads in England, while welcome, is just not enough. “It represents around 20% of the average shortfall in English local authorities’ annual budgets and will do little to improve overall structural conditions and stem further decline.”
“We all appreciate that there are difficult choices to make with demands and pressures on the public purse coming from every area, but not investing in local road maintenance only leads to worsening conditions, which impact on other locally provided public services, a rising bill to fix the problem and more road user complaints.”