Councils improve key highways conditions at cost to unclassified roads


Highways authorities across England have maintained the condition of key local road assets over the last six years despite severe cuts to budgets, although it has come at a cost to unclassified roads, government figures suggest.

The latest official statistics out today from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggest that councils have prioritised principle A roads together with B and C routes, resulting in the percentage of that road network where maintenance should be considered either being maintained or improved.

President of the Local Government Technical Advisors Group, Phil Moore, told Transport Network the statistics show local highways authorities were doing a 'very, very good job' and that asset management was focussed on the higher classified roads 'because we have to keep the traffic moving'.

He added that highways authorities were severely under resourced and had to make 'hard decisions' on which highways do not receive maintenance, leaving them to become 'almost sacrificial roads'.

However he concluded that improvements in local asset management were showing, and that councils were getting more for their buck.

In 2013/14, local authorities reported that 4% of the principal ‘A’ road network in England should have been considered for maintenance, the same as in 2012/13 and an improvement of 1% on 2007/08 levels.

The London region had the highest proportion of its principal network considered for maintenance at 12%, the North West, West Midlands and East of England showed small improvements on last year.

The figures for 2013/14 also show that 8% of the non-principal classified ‘B’ and ‘C’ road network in England should have been considered for maintenance - a 1% improvement on 2012/13 and the same as in 2007/08.

The North West, East Midlands, West Midlands, the South East and South West all showed improvements on last year.

However the percentage of unclassified roads needing maintenance has slowly increased since 2007 rising from 15% to 18% in 2012/13 although they were held at that level last year.

According to the well-regarded ALARM survey for 2014 the total local roads maintenance backlog is currently some £12bn. 

This new figures come after 2013/14 saw 8% of the principal ‘A’ road network in England receiving maintenance treatment, an increase of 1.5% on 2012/13. Over the same period 4% of B, C and unclassified roads received maintenance treatment - the same as the previous year.

The most common treatment used across these road types was surface dressing followed by the more extensive work of resurfacing and strengthening.

The Highways Agency has improved the percentage of the trunk network that needs to be considered for maintenance.

The trunk ‘A’ road figure was 5% last year, the same as in 2007/08, however the trunk motorway figure was 3% in 2013/14 compared to the 6% that should have been considered for maintenance in 2007/08.

Trunk motorways and ‘A’ roads in England make up the Strategic Road Network (SRN) managed by the Highways Agency. The SRN makes up 2.4% of road length but carried 33% of motor traffic vehicle miles in 2013.

Council chiefs have long complained that the SRN is given significantly more funding per road mile than local highways authorities receive.

Between 2015/16 and 2021, the Government is spending roughly £6bn on maintaining and renewing the SRN - as part of a £15bn investment package - which representing around £1m of funding per mile over the 4,300-mile network. This is despite the fact that the cost of maintaining the SRN is £32,227 per lane mile, according to Highways Agency itself.

During the same period, the DfT is spending £5.8bn on maintaining the local road network, the equivalent of £31,625 per mile over the 183,400-mile network.

The DfT stats show that in total £4.2bn was spent on the maintenance of roads in England in 2013/14. Of this, £0.8bn was spent on trunk motorways and ‘A’ roads and £3.4bn on local authority managed roads.

This £3.4bn comprised:

- £641m on structural treatments on ‘A’ roads

- £520m on routine and other treatments on ‘A’ roads

- £1,171m on structural treatments on minor (‘B’, ‘C’, ‘U’) roads

- £760m on routine and other treatments on minor roads

- £306m on highways maintenance policy, planning and strategy for all local authority managed roads

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Assistant Director (Planning, Regeneration & Transport)

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£87,791 per annum  
This is an exciting time to join Rotherham and make a real difference. We are looking for an outstanding Assistant Director who will bring... Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Corporate Director

Islington London Borough Council
Up to £135k
You will share our values and be passionate about helping us shape the Islington of the future. Islington, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Islington London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Junior Energy Manager Apprentice

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
The right person for this job will be pro-active and innovative in finding a way forward. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Career Grade Drainage Engineer

Swindon Borough Council
£19,092 to £40,680 p.a
Working in the asset management team, you’ll support the work of the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and Highways Authority. Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Highway Construction Project Manager

Brent Council
£50,442 - £53,526 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an accomplished highway construction project manager to support the delivery of two high priority highway schemes. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Traffic Signals & UTMC Manager

Bristol City Council
£42,683 - £45,591
Looking for someone with proven management experience, enthusiasm, creativity, vision and good communication skills. City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Highways Estimator

Competitive Salary
As the Highways Estimator you will join a busy environment and become an integral part of the team. Hounslow (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Ringway

Principal Highways Project Engineer

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,106 - £35,229 per annum
The post holder will be responsible for project managing the delivery of two highway projects on the Key Route Network. Knowsley (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recuriter: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Traffic Schemes Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
£22,021 - £29,636 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to play a central role with the Traffic Team in the maintenance of the highway network... Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Traffic Engineer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,055 to £30,756
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team! Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Engineer – Traffic Regulation

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,866 to £25,463
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Environment Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£29,909 – £32,233 Grade 11 - £33,136 - £35,229
All Environment Officers lead, project manage and/or co-ordinate large environmental projects... Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Quantity Surveyor

Leicester City Council
£30,756 - £33,136 pro-rata per annum
Working in the Highways Maintenance Group, you will be responsible for the operational highway maintenance activities Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicester City Council

Highways Engineer/Inspector

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22956 - £32637 per annum
Highways Engineer/Inspector - PermanentThere are plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Royal Greenwich.Royal Greenwich is undergoing a huge trans England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Project Engineer

Derbyshire County Council
Grade 13 £39,867 - £43,282 per annum
Derbyshire County Council is looking for an enthusiastic, enterprising and experienced laboratory manager Derbyshire
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Engineer - Bridges

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
We have a vacancy for a Structures Engineer working within the Bridge’s team! Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council


Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will be required to lead the delivery of a wide range of highway improvements and maintenance projects... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Improvement and Asset Managers – Highways

North Yorkshire County Council
£42,683 to £45,591
We have exciting opportunities for Improvement and Asset Managers to join our highways service at North Yorkshire County Council. Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Major Projects Manager – Highways and Transportation

North Yorkshire County Council
£48,000 to £55,840
This role will be pivotal to the effective delivery of our Highways and Transportation service... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council