The 19th Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey published today (3 April 2014) reports that for the second year in a row, more than two million potholes (2,010,749) were filled in England and Wales over the course of the previous year. The damage caused by this winter’s record rainfall, however, is predicted to have counteracted much of that work, with highways departments anticipating worse road condition to come and the higher one-time catch-up cost of £12bn.
Authorities in England have been affected the worst, reporting this estimated one-time cost as 30% higher than last year, at an average of £90m per authority. This forewarning comes despite a 20% decrease in the shortfall in annual road maintenance budgets reported by local authorities, which has reduced from an average of £6.2m to £5.1m per authority in England.
Asphalt Industry Alliance’s chairman, Alan Mackenzie said: ‘These figures are disappointing for everyone who has worked hard together on the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) initiated by the Department for Transport.
‘The Government has recently made significant additional funds available to help combat the results of the relentless rainfall this winter but money spent on repairing damage never goes as far as money invested in planned, preventative maintenance. It costs at least 20 times more per square metre to fill a pothole than it does to resurface a road.’
The number of compensation claims for personal injury or damage to vehicles has increased by 20% over the last year to an average of 540 for each local authority in England (excluding London where the figures remain the same as the previous year) and 141 for councils in Wales. The total cost of compensation claims due to poor road condition amounted to £31.6m across England and Wales over the last year.