UK councils ‘swamped’ by potholes and essential road repairs

The Annual ALARM report says the UK faces a £13bn road repair bill - up 25 per cent from last year

Potholes

The backlog of essential carriageway repairs needed to bring UK roads up to standard has reached a staggering £12.64billion, according to figures published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance.

The AIA’s annual ALARM survey says that despite an average rise in highway maintenance budgets of four per cent last year, the amount being spent on resurfacing is down as council highways engineers direct funds to filling potholes. The AIA says this merely ‘addresses the symptoms, not the cure’.

“Those responsible for maintaining our local roads are fast approaching the point where they are no longer waving but drowning, said AIA chair Rick Green. “They have a legal responsibility to keep our roads safe, but flat funding allocations to carriageway maintenance in real terms – and rising costs – means they have to make difficult choices about keeping their networks open and safe today, versus improving structural resilience for today and tomorrow.”

“Local authority highway teams have a legal responsibility to keep our roads safe, but do not have the funds to do so in a cost-effective, proactive way,” he said. “As a result, while they report some slight improvements in surface conditions, the structure of our roads continues to decline. Although surface repairs have a part to play in extending the life of local roads, short-term fixes, including filling potholes, is indicative of a network that is ‘on the edge’ and less efficient and sustainable when it comes to materials usage and whole-life carbon emissions.”

Anti-Pothole campaigner Mark Morrell, aka ‘Mr Pothole’ reflected the views of many drivers when he told Auto Express:

“It’s the Great British roads rip off where motorists pay tens of billions in all forms of taxation, while our roads network is failing at an alarming rate. UK drivers incur billions in damage to vehicles as a result of potholes and defects with very little chance of compensation if they claim. Something needs to change now, with proper levels of funding for roads resurfacing.”

ALARM 2022 report findings

  • Local authorities would have needed an extra £1 billion last year just to reach their own target road conditions, before even thinking about tackling the backlog of repairs.
  • Almost one in five local roads could need to be rebuilt in the next five years – nearly 37,000 miles of the network.
  • One pothole is filled the equivalent of every 19 seconds.
  • Roads are only resurfaced on average once every 70 years.

Pothole-related breakdowns hit three-year high in 2021 

The number of pothole-related breakdowns attended by RAC patrols hit a three-year high, with 10,123 incidents in 2021, which works out as an average of 27 per day.

RAC customers experienced 19 per cent more breakdowns caused by broken suspension springs, distorted wheels and damaged shock absorbers in 2021 than in 2020 and 10 per cent more than in 2019.

These types of breakdowns represented 1.5 per cent of all callouts throughout the year, up from 1.2 per cent in 2020, 1.1 per cent in 2019 and 1.4 per cent in 2018.

What do you think about the state of UK roads? Let us know in the comments...

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