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Almost one in five roads in England and Wales in poor condition

Highway teams do not have the money to arrest ‘terminal decline’ of local roads according to Asphalt Industry Alliance

A new report has found that 17 per cent of roads across England and Wales can be considered ‘poor’ – meaning they will need to be repaired within the next five years. The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey estimates that the cost to get roads back into reasonable condition has risen from £11.8bn in 2015/16 to £12.06bn in 2016/17.

Road Safety GB reports that the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) commissioned survey of highways departments this year received a response from 63 per cent of local authorities.

17 per cent of England’s road network (excluding London) was found to be in poor condition, compared to 16 per cent in London and 18 per cent in Wales. These figures represent year-on-year rises of four per cent in England and London and 12 per cent in Wales.

The estimated one-time catch-up cost to get roads back into reasonable condition has risen from £11.8bn in 2015/16 to £12.06bn in 2016/17.

The funding gap has however narrowed and the estimated time to clear the maintenance backlog dropped from 14 years in 2015/16 to 12 years in 2016/17.

Unsafe road surfaces and close passes are top commuting hazards says British Cycling as it launches commuter cycling videos

AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie has previously said that more funding will be needed to tackle the maintenance backlog.

In January, the government announced £1.2bn in roads funding, including a £50m a year Pothole Action Fund, which was described by Cycling UK as “the equivalent of using a sticking plaster to fix a broken leg.”

Reacting to the latest survey, Mackenzie said:

“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.

“Furthermore, the gap that exists between the amount local authority highway teams received this year and the amount they say they need to keep the carriageway in reasonable order is £730m.

“Excluding London, the shortfall for English councils alone is £570m – almost half as much again as the DfT has pledged for 2017/18.

“The message from the research which informs ALARM is that highway teams simply do not have enough money to arrest the terminal decline in the condition of our local roads and the network is not resilient enough to meet the challenges ahead.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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23 comments

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P3t3 | 6 years ago
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Remember guys: Austerity works.  

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Yorkshire wallet replied to P3t3 | 6 years ago
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P3t3 wrote:

Remember guys: Austerity works.  

I think most people would actually not begrudge targeted taxation that got spent on specific areas. Like a 'road tax' for the roads, rather than into the giant morass of spending on 'stuff'. 

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P3t3 replied to Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
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Yorkshire wallet wrote:

I think most people would actually not begrudge targeted taxation that got spent on specific areas. Like a 'road tax' for the roads, rather than into the giant morass of spending on 'stuff'. 

 

Yes, I suspect in theory they wouldn't begrudge a proportional to road dammaged direct taxation to pay for roads... until they saw the cost.  

I'd be fully in favour of the cost of the dammage done to the roads by trucks added to consumer goods (by virtue of costs of operation passed on by road haulage firms) because it might allow a more progressive approach to shifting stuff away from the highly inefficient truck based system we currently have.  It might also re-invigorate the high street if the cost of delivery from online sales was included too.  

Specifically relating to roads: At the moment we have a terrible "hands off", free market model on the surface but underneath its propped up by subsidies from general taxation that do precisely the opposite.  

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Simon E replied to Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
3 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

I think most people would actually not begrudge targeted taxation that got spent on specific areas. Like a 'road tax' for the roads, rather than into the giant morass of spending on 'stuff'. 

Do you mean stuff like hospitals, schools and council services?

Or do you mean stuff like invading foreign countries and developing / replacing nuclear weapons?

Perhaps if those with rather large amounts in their (offshore?) bank accounts were taxed more effectively then your 'hard working taxpayer' type may begrudge paying their share a little less. The mainstream media has spent decades, maybe longer, railing against high taxation and waste rather than showing whose pockets much of it goes into. This is even more pertinent now that so much of our infrastructure has been privatised.

Roads, including traffic, have an external costs that are never met through transport-specific taxes (link). If it was then there would be riots, as the cost of driving - and of transporting goods and providing services that we all need - would go through the roof.

It is exactly same with products made abroad - we can demonise China as a big polluter and exploiting natural resources but it's because they are busy making everything that we want to buy and use. And it's killing thousands.

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jigr69 | 6 years ago
1 like

My council have started to resurface roads that were in a bad state, but only because the Women's Tour of Britian will be cycling on them in a couple of months time!

It's funny as they are ignoring roads in far worse condition in the area, but making sure that the roads that professional cyclists will ride on, will be quite good.

 

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gmac101 | 6 years ago
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Well my local authority has found a few tonnes of asphalt down the back of their sofa and resurfaced the rather poor off road shared paths I use on the way to work. I now enjoy a few hundred yards of silky smooth traffic free surface - luxury 

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Man of Lard replied to gmac101 | 6 years ago
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gmac101 wrote:

Well my local authority has found a few tonnes of asphalt down the back of their sofa...

Funny that they do that just as the council tax bills go out, every year.

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Grahamd replied to Man of Lard | 6 years ago
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Man of Lard wrote:
gmac101 wrote:

Well my local authority has found a few tonnes of asphalt down the back of their sofa...

Funny that they do that just as the council tax bills go out, every year.

 

They always manage to resource repairs when they feel threatened, our local council sent a fleet of vehicles with plenty of asphalt to check every road in Monmouth in 2013 following http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-24160361

But do the bare minimum now.

 

 

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lushmiester | 6 years ago
2 likes

Living in rural dorset means giving up on road bikes, I now use a gravel/all tarain bike for all rides in my home area.

The irony is that my road bike comes out when I'm in london, the surfaces are great, mainly smooth and fast and if your cycling at 5 in the morning (as I have to)  there's very little traffic. Two hours later and you're into hyper alert mode and inconsiderate drivers, parking in cycle lanes etc By 9am no one is going anywhere quickly

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Dnnnnnn replied to lushmiester | 6 years ago
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lushmiester wrote:

Living in rural dorset means giving up on road bikes, I now use a gravel/all tarain bike for all rides in my home area.

The irony is that my road bike comes out when I'm in london, the surfaces are great, mainly smooth and fast and if your cycling at 5 in the morning (as I have to)  there's very little traffic. Two hours later and you're into hyper alert mode and inconsiderate drivers, parking in cycle lanes etc By 9am no one is going anywhere quickly

London's roads don't seem too bad to me either after 7 years riding on them. And cycling at that time is a joy! 9am's fine too if you're on a Superhighway  1

By contrast, I was in Edinburgh recently and the roads there were shockingly bad.

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frogg | 6 years ago
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@Valbrona; here in France, the state delegated all roads to regions and other local levels, but didn't lower his taxes, quite the contrary. So now we pay two times at the state and local levels, BUT i haven't seen roads in such a bad condition for years in my lifetime. That's why i plan to buy a gravel bike, a cannondale Slate to be precise, with a front suspension.

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Valbrona | 6 years ago
4 likes

We pay comparatively low levels of tax in the UK compared to our European counterparts, so we get what we pay for ... nothing works, not even the roads.

Luxury Car Tax please.

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Simon E replied to Valbrona | 6 years ago
1 like
Valbrona wrote:

We pay comparatively low levels of tax in the UK compared to our European counterparts, so we get what we pay for ... nothing works, not even the roads.

Luxury Car Tax please.

Lower taxes have been a key election promise since 1979, we are a nation that resents paying for decent public services. But HGVs (and on rural lanes ever wider and heavier tractors & trailers) cause far more damage than even the fattest 4x4s or 'prestige' marques.

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ConcordeCX | 6 years ago
1 like

If they feel that bad about it, perhaps the asphalt industry should lower their prices.

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Grahamd | 6 years ago
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Keep reporting so the local authorities have no excuse. If you can't be bothered to report it then don't bother to complain about it.

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theflatboy replied to Grahamd | 6 years ago
1 like
Grahamd wrote:

Keep reporting so the local authorities have no excuse. If you can't be bothered to report it then don't bother to complain about it.

 

I was thinking about that while out on a ride this morning and, while clearly you're right, the road I was riding along at the time (Tyler's Causeway, for those who know it) is in such a bad state that just reporting the defects on that road alone would take me most of the day...!

 

Very few of the rest of the roads I was out on were much better - pretty atrocious surfaces are the norm these days, sadly (and dangerously).

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Grahamd replied to theflatboy | 6 years ago
0 likes
theflatboy wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

Keep reporting so the local authorities have no excuse. If you can't be bothered to report it then don't bother to complain about it.

 

I was thinking about that while out on a ride this morning and, while clearly you're right, the road I was riding along at the time (Tyler's Causeway, for those who know it) is in such a bad state that just reporting the defects on that road alone would take me most of the day...!

 

Very few of the rest of the roads I was out on were much better - pretty atrocious surfaces are the norm these days, sadly (and dangerously).

Get in the habit of reporting if you can, I use the attached, only takes a couple of minutes.

https://www.fillthathole.org.uk/hazards/report

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Forzamark | 6 years ago
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I'm fed up of the poor roads so I'm getting a gravel bike with 32c tyres and I hope that will make it less of a Paris Roubaix experience.

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Man of Lard | 6 years ago
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@davel - not all of them are contrived  3

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fernbritton/3466682722

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DrG82 | 6 years ago
2 likes

Breaking news, bears shit in the woods!

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Man of Lard | 6 years ago
3 likes

I agree a lot of local roads leave something to be desired in terms of maintenance.

However, the quantum of the maintenance required may be different if viewed by a body without a heavily vested interest in shipping asphalt volume surely?

Perhaps no new roads should be allowed until they prove that they can look after the ones they've already got?

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davel replied to Man of Lard | 6 years ago
2 likes
Man of Lard wrote:

I agree a lot of local roads leave something to be desired in terms of maintenance.

However, the quantum of the maintenance required may be different if viewed by a body without a heavily vested interest in shipping asphalt volume surely?

Perhaps no new roads should be allowed until they prove that they can look after the ones they've already got?

... and I'm always suspicious when reports have such engineered acronyms, but on this I think cyclists can appreciate the main points. ALARM indeed.

Personally, I think I'll wait to see what the Operational Heuristic on the State of Highway Tarmacadam (OHSHiT!) finds.

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ChrisB200SX replied to davel | 6 years ago
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davel wrote:

... and I'm always suspicious when reports have such engineered acronyms, but on this I think cyclists can appreciate the main points. ALARM indeed. Personally, I think I'll wait to see what the Operational Heuristic on the State of Highway Tarmacadam (OHSHiT!) finds.

Backronym. Coming up with words that make the acronym you want.

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