Tuesday, 8 April 2014

ALARM Rises At Lack Of Road Maintenance

short post this week to moan once again about the woeful lack of funding going into highway maintenance.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance's (AIA) 2014 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey has a headline grabbing figure of the road maintenance backlog in England, London & Wales rising from £10.5 billion last year to £12 billion this year. I should state that the AIA is an industry group which exists to promote the use of asphalt (and of course lobby government at all levels), but the survey has a high level of response from local authority maintenance people and it is well respected in the industry.

Being London-based, I was interested to learn that one of the survey's key findings was that on average each authority would need a one off investment of £36 million just to bring things up to a reasonable standard. Wales is "better" at £20 million per authority, but England (excluding London) is a staggering £90 million per authority.

For roads being resurfaced, you need to wait 68 years in England and Wales, but "just" 36 years in London. Of course, this is average - for a main 'A' class roads, resurfacing might be every 7 to 10 years and so on average it means that the local road network is suffering even more. For schemes like the London Quietways project (forgetting for a minute if it will be any good or even delivered) does this mean that walking and cycling will be confined to pot-hole ridden moonscapes?

The survey deals with carriageways (roads) and so the impact on footways, cycle tracks and the like must be even worse. The highway network is the biggest asset we have in the UK, but we have neglected it for decades which is a national scandal. So, a jump in the backlog of 15% in a single year is staggering - perhaps the politicians might realise that "things" need to be maintained and perhaps "we" public need to realise that we might actually need to pay for it?

So, as the Government embarks on the biggest road building programme since the 1970s, I wonder if we will be able to afford to maintain all of this tarmac. If only there were easier and cheaper ways to manage our road space to make travelling easier, cheaper, more active and safer.

The full survey can be downloaded here.

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