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18% of UK’s roads could be undriveable unless billions are spent fixing potholes

By Tom Gibson | March 21, 2023

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Experts have warned one in five roads could be undriveable in five years unless billions are spent fixing the pothole crisis.

18% of UK’s roads could be undriveable unless billions are spent fixing potholes

In its annual survey, the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) reported that nearly 37,000 miles of road (18% of the UK total) are in such poor condition that they have less than five years of life remaining – unless there is intervention. 

Last week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced an additional £200m was being made available to help solve the pothole pandemic. The funding was in addition to the annual £500 million fund meaning £700 million will go towards fixing the roads in 2023/24.

But this figure is substantially less than the whopping £14bn that the AIA says is needed to fix all of England and Wales’ potholes.

The £14bn figure is a £2bn jump from last year’s report and shows that the funding gap is widening. In 2012 the report stated that government expenditure was £9 billion short of what was needed.

As part of the report, AIA ranks the local roads as good, having more than 15 years’ of life remaining, adequate, having between five and 15 years of life remaining, and poor, less than five years remaining.

It has found that just over half of all local roads are in good structural condition, while the remainder, more than 100,000 miles, may need to be rebuilt in the next fifteen years without adequate maintenance measures.

The report also revealed that 1.4 million potholes were repaired last year, down from the 1.7 million filled in 2021/22, although this still equates to one pothole being filled every 20 seconds.

But AIA chair Rick Green said that this was just not enough; “It represents around 20 per cent of the average shortfall in English local authorities’ annual budgets and will do little to improve overall structural conditions and stem further decline.

“We all appreciate that there are difficult choices to make with demands and pressures on the public purse coming from every area, but not investing in local road maintenance only leads to worsening conditions.”

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