£12 billion to fix England and Wales’ potholes

A car and a pothole on an open road

How would you describe the state of your local roads – silky smooth or bumpy and hazardous?

You’re not alone if you answered the latter. In fact, a recent report suggests potholes are ruining many roads across England and Wales – damage it claims would take the best part of a decade to repair.

Expensive repairs

A backlog of repairs means it would now cost more than £12 billion to fix pothole-plagued roads – a whopping 23% increase on just a year ago.

This effectively means £61,700 needs to be spent for every mile of local road in England and Wales.

A severe lack of long-term investment in road maintenance has been highlighted in the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA) Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance report (ALARM).

Despite a 4% increase to road maintenance budgets, the amount actually spent on road upgrades has declined, leading to a backlog of repairs.

Just 5.1% of council road maintenance budgets in England (excluding London) is spent on roads themselves, down from 5.5% a year ago. These budgets also cover the cost of the upkeep of bridges and structural work, cyclical maintenance (such as sweeping, grass cutting, checking traffic signals and replacing street furniture) and street lighting.

Councils are therefore left with little to spend on fixing unacceptable road conditions, and have to turn to temporary repairs instead – one pothole is filled every 19 seconds on average at a total cost of £107.4million, but the majority of these are not permanent repairs.

‘More funding needed’

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Despite the efforts of councils, which repair a pothole every 19 seconds, these stark new figures show our local road repair backlog is rising.

“To clear this growing backlog, councils need further government investment and certainty over future funding over the next decade.”

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes added: “The Government must now look at implementing a long-term funding strategy which ringfences a small proportion of existing fuel duty revenue to give local authorities the resources to properly plan maintenance and to ensure our local roads are once again made fit for purpose.”

Earlier this year RAC highlighted that around 10,123 callouts in 2021 related to cars damaged by potholes – an average of 27 per day.

Read more about the Mercedes technology which warns other drivers about potholes in the road.

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