An annual independent study of the local highways network across England and Wales published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) – a partnership between the Mineral Products Association and Eurobitume UK – has revealed almost one in five roads could need to be rebuilt within the next five years.
The 2022 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey found that more than 37,000 miles of carriageway is in need of essential renovation within the next half a decade, and indicated that the estimated one-time catch up cost for bringing all local roads in England and Wales up to a reasonable condition has risen by nearly a quarter to £12.6 billion – which would take up to nine years to carry out.
Flat funding allocations for highway maintenance in real terms and the impact of rising costs means local authorities in England and Wales have been putting a short-term focus on keeping networks open and safe today, rather than being able to invest in long-term resilience. Over 1.7 million potholes were repaired in the past year, equivalent to one every 19 seconds.
Brian Kent, national technical director at Tarmac, commented: “With over 200,000 miles of carriageway, local roads make up 97 per cent of the road network in England and Wales. All journeys start and end on a local road, and the importance of these vital assets which are so critical for our regional economies has been undervalued for many years.
“The latest ALARM survey’s findings have once again underscored that long periods of under-investment in local road maintenance has left increasingly significant sections of the network under-funded and in pressing need of attention – with over half of local authorities seeing a cut or freeze in their budgets in real terms.
“While recent funding increases from the Department for Transport are to be welcomed as a positive step in the right direction, it’s clear that a longer-term approach and more consistent levels of investment are needed for building a safer, more resilient and sustainable local network. We should equally never undervalue the benefits in socio-economic terms of having high-quality, well-maintained local roads across the country, particularly as we rebuild from the pandemic.”
Now in its 27th year, the AIA’s ALARM survey is widely considered to be the most authoritative and comprehensive study into local road maintenance funding and condition.
Results from the 2022 survey can be read in full here: http://www.asphaltuk.org/alarm-survey-page/
‘All journeys start and end on a local road, and the importance of these vital assets which are so critical for our regional economies has been undervalued for many years,’ says Brian Kent (inset), national technical director at Tarmac.