Local roads in England and Wales are in terminal decline with one in six (17%) in poor condition, a study has found.
The issue has been caused by an ageing network, decades of underfunding, increased traffic and wetter winters, the report by the Ashphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) found.
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Those roads identified as being in poor condition “will not be fit for purpose in five years’ time” and some may have to close, researchers warned.
The AIA’s annual road maintenance survey found that the number of potholes filled by councils fell by 19% in England last year, with the biggest drop in London at 43%.
Wales saw an increase of 19%. Local authorities need over £12 billion of funding to bring the road network up to scratch, according to the study.
The gap between the amount councils say they received in the last year and what they require to keep roads in reasonable order is almost £730 million.
AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie said: “Local roads are failing and it’s time we had a rethink about how to adequately fund them in the future.“Clearing the maintenance backlog remains impossible without a significant increase in funding.”
AA president Edmund King said: “It is clear that the plague of potholes aren’t going to be filled any time soon.
“Even before getting to a main road drivers are using pothole-riddled roads, which they would be lucky to see resurfaced in their lifetime as it takes councils 87 years to get round to it.
“The Government needs to confront the funding shortfall head on and help fund repairs and resurfacing work quicker.
“If not, our streets will continue to resemble Swiss cheese rather than smooth highways.”
The Department for Transport has committed £6 billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50 million-a-year fund specifically for tackling potholes.
It has unveiled plans for high-definition cameras to be fitted to council bin lorries to spot road surface problems which can be treated before they become potholes.