Potholes becoming bottomless money pits19 Mar 2024

Road network risks sliding into "a state of complete disrepair"

A new study suggests “more than half of the local road network in England and Wales could fail in the next 15 years.”

The latest ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) says the amount needed to clear the repair backlog is at a record high of £16.3 billion and would take 10 years to complete even if the money was available.

The survey warns there is now “more than 107,000 miles of local roads that could need to practically be rebuilt within the next 15 years”.

This is despite £140 million being spent on filling in two million potholes over the past 12 months.

Rick Green of the AIA said:

“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 34,000 miles identified as structurally poor, with less than 5 years’ life remaining.”

Responding to the report, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The risk is that we are approaching a tipping point, beyond which many of our local roads are in such a poor state that it becomes implausibly expensive to rescue them, let alone return them to a standard we’d wish to see.

“The gauntlet is down for government and for the highways sector, from the former to establish a ring-fenced, secure, medium-term funding settlement for highways – local and national, from the latter the development of better, longer-lasting engineering and stewardship techniques.

“Without both our road network – as critically important for our economy as those for telecoms, energy and water – risks sliding into a state of complete disrepair.”


Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 07711 776448

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation which explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. For more information visit: https://www.racfoundation.org.