Lincolnshire would need £400 million to complete all its road repairs backlog

A leading Lincolnshire County Councillor has agreed with industry representatives that many of Lincolnshire’s roads are in “a dire state” and would need £400 million to tackle all existing issues, but adds that his teams are “chipping away” at the backlog of repairs.
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The comments come as this year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey report is commissioned by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, which represents the road surfacing industry.

The report states that three-quarters of local roads in the East Midlands could fail in the next 15 years and the amount needed to fix the backlog of repairs is £1.56 billion in the region, as a one-off catch-up cost – to bring the network up to condition that would allow it to be managed cost effectively and sustainably going forward as part of a proactive asset management approach.

Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways in Lincolnshire, commented on the report: “2023 was a really productive year for us. Not only did we fill over 110,000 potholes last year, but we also rebuilt 77 miles of footpath and 224 miles of road, while cleaning nearly over 192,000 drains.

The latest Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM survey says much more investment in road repairs is needed. Photo: Andrew Norris/DreamstimeThe latest Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM survey says much more investment in road repairs is needed. Photo: Andrew Norris/Dreamstime
The latest Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM survey says much more investment in road repairs is needed. Photo: Andrew Norris/Dreamstime

“However, many of our roads remain in a dire state. In fact, we’d need £400 million to tackle the existing issues we know of and bring all of our roads and pavements up to standard. That’s why our focus for 2024 is to build upon 2023 by chipping away at the number of roads and footpaths that are in disrepair throughout the county.

“Although there’s no quick and easy fix for the highways issues we face, we can continue taking some cautious steps in the right directions thanks to an additional £262 million in highways funding allocated to us by the Department for Transport.”

This year’s ALARM survey report highlights the scale of the challenge that faces local authority highway teams who still lack the funds to keep all roads in good shape.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance says poor local road conditions impact our everyday lives, from the cost and inconvenience of damage to vehicles, to potentially causing accidents that can prove fatal for vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

They are the number one complaint in local politicians’ post bags, yet highway teams accept that they do not get enough funding to fix them.

“Local authorities in the East Midlands have a bit more money to spend this year but the impact of rising costs due to inflation means they have actually been able to do less with it,” says Rick Green, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance.

“Couple this with the effects of the extreme weather we are increasingly facing, and the result is that the rate at which local roads are suffering is accelerating towards breaking point.”

There are now more than 14,000 miles of local roads in the East Midlands – 75 per cent of the network – that could need to practically be rebuilt within the next 15 years while surface conditions have also declined, despite almost 250,000 potholes being filled over the last 12 months, adding to the existing patchwork of previous repairs in the region, says the Alliance

Mr Green added: “There’s still a mountain to climb when it comes to fixing our local roads and while it’s great that English local authorities should be getting more money from the Government through its Network North funding, it’s clearly not going to be enough to halt the decline.

“The Transport Secretary was quoted as saying that the additional £8.3 billion over 11 years is enough to resurface 5,000 miles of local roads. This sounds like a lot, but not when you consider that there are already more than 3,200 miles identified as structurally poor, with less than five years’ life remaining, in the East Midlands region alone.

“We need to get to the point where local authority highway engineers can plan and proactively carry out repairs and preventative works in the most timely and efficient way to the greatest benefit of all road users – rather than just having enough money to address immediate and urgent needs.”

This year’s ALARM survey is the 29th and reports local road funding and conditions based on information provided directly by those responsible for their maintenance.

The findings, which relate to the 2023/24 financial year, show that in the East Midlands:

• Local authorities would have needed an additional £94.4 million (an average of £9.4 million per authority) just to reach their own target road conditions.

• It would cost £1.56 billion to tackle the backlog of carriageway repairs and bring the network up to a standard from which it can be maintained efficiently and cost-effectively going forward.

• Only 25% of all local roads in the region are reported to be in good structural condition meaning the remaining 14,158 miles (75%) could continue to deteriorate to the point of needing to be rebuilt within the next 15 years without appropriate maintenance measures taking place.

• £17.4 million has been spent filling in 240,610 potholes over the last 12 months.

• Roads are only resurfaced on average once every 85 years.

Edmund King, AA President, said: “Our breakdown data shows that 2023 was the worst year for potholes for five years. The latest ALARM report shows just how much is needed to simply get our roads up to standard.

“Arguably the road network is a local council’s biggest asset, but not enough planned investment and repairs are being made to make streets safer and smoother for drivers and those on two wheels.”