Local authority road maintenance teams are now having to fill in more than a million potholes a year, it was revealed today.
Pothole-filling costs are adding to already-stretched road maintenance budgets, said a report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).
The maintenance backlog for local authority roads in England is estimated to take 11.1 years to clear, while the figure for Wales is 12.9 years, the report said.
The report said that in the last 12 months in England and Wales (excluding London) 944,000 potholes were filled in at a cost of around £56 million.
Across London, 258,000 potholes were filled in, an average of 7,807 per local authority. The average cost to fill one pothole in London was calculated at £72 – above the national average of £56.
London’s local authority engineers said that even if they were given all the required funds today, it would still take nearly 11.5 years to clear the road maintenance backlog..
AIA Chairman Jim Crick said: ‘The number of potholes is an indicator of the general poor condition of the local road network. This level of patch-and-mend work is very inefficient use of resources, but highways engineers say they are in a Catch 22 situation.
‘When a road surface is left without regular maintenance for too long it becomes more vulnerable to changing weather conditions and will eventually crack. Left unchecked, this leads to the creation of potholes. The next level of deterioration would be structural damage and, ultimately, failure of the road.’
Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: ‘There seems little point in having the highest safety standards if they are compromised by lack of funds.
‘While driver behaviour is the major factor in accidents, the road environment also contributes significantly and the existence of so many potholes on our roads introduces a driving hazard we could do without.
‘For motorcyclists and cyclists this presents a particular accident risk, while all road users face the additional distraction of having to negotiate the potholes themselves.’
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