Tatty tarmac timebomb

Brentwood, Essex, UK: The UK is sitting on a ‘time bomb of tatty tarmacadam’ and if we have more harsh winter weather this year it will further devastate Britain’s roads.

So says nationwide breakdown service Autonational Rescue that claims that the underfunded “cheap and cheerful” patching up of roads currently undertaken by many local authorities across the country is wholly inadequate.

Autonational’s marketing manager Ronan Hart says: “Britain’s roads haven’t really recovered from the damage done to them by several bad weather spells of recent winters and dangerous pot holes abound in our towns and cities.

“But because we’re still living in times of austerity, many local authorities responsible for maintaining our road infrastructure say they are grossly underfunded and effectively turning a blind eye to the problem, almost wishing that it would just go away, or can be forgotten about, until the recession ends and beyond.”

However this is short term thinking which will leave the UK with an unwelcome inheritance of tatty tarmacadam destined to produce more pot holes and further damage the nation’s roads network and – potentially – any economic recovery that inevitably relies on it, he says.

Autonational wants to see substantially better central government support for this essential work.

“The roads network is one of the most important assets we have. We must undertake wholesale road repairs now and for the next few years and view it as a job-creating investment in Britain’s future,” Hart says.

Local authorities pay out millions of pounds each year in compensation claims due to damage caused by poor road conditions, much of which could be avoided if more were spent on road repairs.

The calls come in the wake of a major report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, whose members represent many of the major tarmacadam/asphalt producers in the UK, which states that £10.65bn needs to be spent to bring roads in England and Wales up to scratch, an increase of 25% since 2009.

According to the Alliance, the average cost to fill one pot hole to the required standard is £53.81 in England (£48.02 in Wales) and, if work was fully funded today, it would still take a depressing 11 years across England (14 years in Wales) to clear the carriageway maintenance backlog.