Minor roads in Britain are facing closure should another harsh winter hit the UK this year, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), with one in five roads classed as being in “’poor condition”.
Severe weather conditions such as floods, snow and frost, combined with prolonged underinvestment in highway maintenance – has caused an estimated £1 billion of damage to Britain’s road network.
While investment in pothole repairs has increased – with 2.2 million potholes patched in 2012, which is 500,000 more than the previous year – this has not been sufficient to address the £10.5billion backlog.
The LGA said that further severe weather could potentially lead to a “tipping point” in many areas, which means some minor roads will become so damaged they will be forced to close, creating a “spiralling decline”. They added that despite shrinking budgets, reactive pothole repairs deliver “false economy” and should not form a part of any long-term strategy.
“Well maintained roads are a vital part of our economy and the UK’s road network is in need of serious attention. The number of potholes being filled is rising every year, an indication of the current level of road deterioration. Under investment has had a significant part to play, particularly in recent years. The effects of harsh weather have accelerated this deterioration, leaving authorities struggling to catch up with what was already a vicious circle.
“Not only is the investment not enough, it is not always spent correctly, or regarded with a long term view. Local authorities should be looking for the best efficiencies over the entire lifecycle of the product when tendering for highways services.”
“Common quick fix repairs, such as filling and ‘panic patching’ are temporary and are not providing an effective, long term solution. There are times, of course, when patching is appropriate, but instead of prescribing repairs from a desktop, products and services need to be bespoke and right first time. For example, our Rejuvopatch® product can be engineered for each specific pothole or defect and tailored to each site.
“The key to long term success and to reducing long term costs is a focus on appropriate, planned preventative approaches to road maintenance. One of the most successful preventative approaches is waterproofing, especially after the impact our past winters have had. Water and frost are two of the most damaging conditions, accelerating deterioration on our roads. Waterproofing will decrease deterioration and prevent water ingress, particularly in the most vulnerable areas of the highways network, in particular oxidising and oxidised areas.
“A preventative waterproofing programme could save authorities thousands of pounds each year, not to mention reducing disruption on the roads and associated costs, and improving public perception.”