One sixth of the UK’s local road network will have to be repaired or closed within five years, according to a report commissioned by trade body the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).
The report estimates that the annual shortfall between the amount local authorities need to bring their road network up to par and what they receive from central government is about $900m. As a result, the accumulated debt for road repairs in the UK has now reached $15bn.
The estimate is given in the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey, Alarm 2017, which is carried out by an independent company but commissioned by the AIA.
Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the AIA, commented in the introduction to the report: "Behind the smokescreen of big numbers aggregated over several years to make them sound impressive lies decades of underfunding which, coupled with the effects of increased traffic and wetter winters on an ageing network, means one in six of our local roads will not be fit for purpose in five years’ time."
The report argues that the asset value of the UK’s roads is in excess of $500bn but, at present, less than 1% of that value is being spent annually on maintenance, which could have "profound consequences" for the network.
It found that the road network in London is in the best shape. To bring the capital’s network up to standard would require 10 years’ work and cost $860m. By contrast, the rest of England requires 13 years’ work at a cost of $13.4bn.
It adds that $11.6m was spent last year on compensation claims brought by motorist whose cars were damaged by poor roads.
Alarm 2017 is the AIA’s 22nd annual survey. Just over 63% of authorities responsible for roads in England and Wales responded and this report summarises the key findings.
The full 2017 ALARM survey is available to download here.
Image: It would take 13 years to fully repair England’s roads (Emily Rogers)