Road repair backlog put at £7.4bn and rising

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The Independent Online

Britain's roads are "bad and getting worse", a survey published yesterday by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) concluded.

Local authorities told the institution that they were unable to tackle a backlog of maintenance and said the problem was growing rapidly.

Councils estimate £7.4bn would be needed to clear the unfinished work – £120 for each resident. A total of £5.5bn needs to be spent on carriageways, with £1.1bn required for work on lighting, £600m for footways and £200m for other projects, the survey found.

The figure for carriageway maintenance compares with an estimated backlog last year of £4.7bn.

However, researchers found that local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales were spending an average of only 87 per cent of their highway maintenance allowance. One of the 30 authorities spent 66 per cent.

More than three-quarters of the local authorities admitted the backlog of maintenance work had increased over the past 12 months.

Local authorities are responsible for all roads except trunk routes and motorways. The roads for which councils are responsible make up 96 per cent of the national network and carry about two-thirds of the journeys made.

The survey also showed that 34 per cent of councils found the funding system for local authority transport to be "highly complex and time-wasting", while 37 per cent described it as "awkward". Some 26 per cent said the funding was "adequate", although just 3 per cent considered the system "simple and effective".

The survey also found that the number of highway liability claims from drivers and pedestrians had rocketed.

A Department of Transport spokesman said long-term under-investment was the main cause of the deterioration. He said that in the 10-year transport plan, ministers had allocated £31bn to improve local highways in England.