The Transport Committee has launched a new inquiry into the funding and governance of local roads in England in a move to encourage the Government to tackle the issue.
Although local roads comprise more than 97% of the total road network length and carry two-thirds of motor traffic and almost all cyclist movements, road condition and maintenance is becoming a growing concern.
According to the recently published Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey for 2018, one in five local roads has less than five years’ life remaining while latest data from the RAC shows pothole breakdowns hit a three-year high in Q2.
The ALARM survey also found that English councils have seen a marked decrease in the frequency of road re-surfacing. On average, for all classes of road, this has dropped from once every 55 years to once every 92 years.
In response, Lilian Greenwood MP, chair of the Transport Committee, said: ”This plague of potholes represents a major headache for all of us. The consequences of a deteriorating local road network are significant – undermining local economic performance and resulting in direct costs to motorists, through damage to road vehicles. The safety of other road users, particularly cyclists, is compromised.
“Our inquiry aims to investigate the situation in England, including current funding constraints and potential alternative models that could offer a solution. We know that this is a high priority issue among the public and I hope our inquiry will help put the onus on the Government to address it sooner rather than later.”
RAC chief engineer David Bizley commented: “We know that more drivers are suffering breakdowns than 12 months ago – and potentially expensive damage – as a result of poor quality road surfaces. But the reality is that potholes are dangerous to all road users, particularly cyclists.
“By 2020, major roads – motorways and major A roads – will benefit from ring-fenced funds as a result of the ring-fencing of vehicle excise duty for this purpose. It is vitally important, both in terms of keeping communities connected and for the long-term economic health of the country, that local roads are given similar priority.”