Neglect is road to ruin for economy

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Chorley motorists are suffering like others throughout the country from the poor state of the ‘neglected’ nation’s roads.

A shocking new report has revealed that one in five of our roads are in poor condition - meaning they have less they five years of life remaining.

The ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey 2013) has revealed some startling statistics for the North West, including:

n estimated time to clear the highway maintenance backlog – 12 years.

n one-off “catch up” cost to clear the backlog, average per authority – nearly £80m.

n frequency of resurfacing, all road classes – 60 years.

n number of potholes filed over the last year, average per authority – 22,347.

Throughout England last year, the survey found that more than 1.9 million potholes were filled; average cost to fill one pothole £52; total spent filling potholes £99m; amount paid in road user compensation claims £23.8m; staff times working on claims 38,560 days.

In his introduction to the report, Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: “In terms of the highway itself, current estimates show the local network value to be at least £300 billion. Even disregarding the country’s economic status, can we afford to neglect such a valuable asset?

“Sadly, this year’s ALARM survey, which 75 per cent of all local authorities responsible for roads in England and Wales participated in, and hence reports the most robust results ever, shows that this is exactly what is happening.”

Jack Waring, owner of Weldbank Garage, Saville Street, Chorley, said: “It is fair to say there has been an escalation in suspension repairs, I would say over the last 12 months.

“I think it’s fairly common knowledge they just aren’t repairing the roads like they should be. If it goes on for longer, it costs more.”

Lancashire County Council has invested £205m in highway maintenance over the past four years.

Phil Barrett, director of highway services, said: “Good roads are a priority to local people and a vital part of the wider transport infrastructure which supports our economy.

“There is a balance to be struck between short-term repairs to potholes and investing in completely new surfaces, and we direct as much of our budget as we can towards full resurfacing schemes while also making good quality and timely pothole repairs. We’ve changed our approach to make sure everything we do is focused on making repairs last as long as possible.

“For example, we now make a permanent repair on the first visit to a pothole whenever possible instead of a temporary patch, which we reserve only for when a quick fix is needed for safety reasons or when we can’t do a full repair because of poor weather.

“We have been repairing more potholes in recent years as a result of the colder, wetter winters, but have also invested more in long-term maintenance to ensure our roads don’t deteriorate.”