Have you ever felt – while bouncing along a pothole-pitted minor road – that the quality of the north east’s roads is getting worse?

Well, according to a recent report, the north east’s councils would need 12 years and a budget of £656 million to fix the region’s many potholes.  

In 2016/17, on average, one pothole was filled in the north east every 5 minutes and 38 seconds. This may sound impressive, but even at this speed, it would take 12 years and millions of pounds – which the region’s austerity-hit councils simple don’t have – to get the north east’s roads in an acceptable condition.

These figures come from the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Report, which is published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA). 

The report’s authors asked the highways maintenance departments of local authorities how much money they would need to improve their road networks.

The report found that filling in potholes and improving roads would cost each of the region’s councils around £54.6 million. 

12 Years and £656 Million to Fix all North East's Potholes
It would cost each of the north east’s councils nearly £55 million to improve their roads

The highways departments estimated that this would take 12 years if sufficient funding was available. However, the highways departments are, on average, £4.4 million a year short of the budget they would need. 

In the last twelve months, the north east’s councils have paid £149,250 in compensation to people affected by substandard road conditions. In England and Wales, 70% of the compensation councils pay out to road users relates to problems caused by potholes. 

12 Years and £656 Million to Fix all North East's Potholes
The average English road is only resurfaced every 55 years

In the north east, roads are resurfaced, on average, every 22 years. Though this may sound less than ideal, it is actually the best rate of any region in the country.

The average English road is only resurfaced every 55 years, the average Welsh one every 63 years. 

One in six British roads are in poor condition. The AIA estimates that some of these roads may not be fit for purpose in five years’ time and that some might have to close completely. 

According to the AIA, roads should be resurfaced every 10-20 years, depending on the type of road, the materials used to construct it and the volume of traffic the road carries. 

Alan McKenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said, “Local authority highway teams do not have the resources to arrest the terminal decline in the condition of our local roads and the network is not resilient enough to meet the challenges ahead.”

“Almost all journeys begin and end on a local road and we rely on them every day.”

“They represent an asset worth in excess of £400 billion, but at present less than 1% of their value is being spent annually on maintenance.”

AA president Edmund King commented, “The plague of potholes aren’t going to be filled any time soon.”

“Even before getting to a main road, drivers are using pothole-riddled roads, which they would be lucky to see resurfaced in their lifetime.”


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