As well as looking at new funding, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) has said that there should be a one-off programme of intensive improvements to local roads to cut the long-term maintenance cost and avoid a “congestion time bomb”.
An annual survey of local authorities in England and Wales undertaken by the Asphalt Industry Alliance and published yesterday showed that the estimated gap in funding has risen from £10.5bn in 2013, to £12bn, its highest ever (link opens in new tab).
The report states that too much money is spent on fixing sudden cracks and patching holes in the roads network, despite the fact that investment up front is a more efficient use of funds.
CECE chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Today’s report show the urgent need for a new funding model to tackle potholes once and for all. According to the World Economic Forum, the UK comes a dismal 28th in the international ranking for our roads infrastructure.
“The government has estimated that by 2040 road traffic is forecast to be 46% higher than it was in 2010, implying an increase in congestion of about 114%.
“While the past year has seen steps taken to mitigate the effects of extreme weather upon the network, addressing damage after the event is merely storing up problems for the future.”
He said that the current funding model for highways maintenance must be reviewed. “CECA has proposed wider use of prudential borrowing to stop the rot, while consideration should also be given to private finance models and the targeted use of local authority reserves,” he said. “CECA believes a one-off programme of intensive improvements to local roads would significantly reduce the long-term cost of maintaining the network.
“What is clear is that we can’t go on as we are. Unless steps are taken to radically reform the roads funding model, the UK is sitting on a congestion time bomb.”