Highways officers have urged the Welsh Government to replicate a recent three-year borrowing initiative, to arrest the slide back into short-term reactive maintenance.
With access to more than £170m for additional highways maintenance from 2012 to 2015 through the Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI) , the 22 unitary authorities were able to plan and increase maintenance, with rapid improvements in asset condition and reduced insurance claims.
Paul Wheeldon, chair of CSS Wales, told Transport Network: ‘It’s back to reactive maintenance for all the local authorities. We’re continuously firefighting. That’s why we all saw the LGBI as a good, planned way to deal with maintenance.'
Experts suggest reactive maintenance could cost up to 30 or 40 times more than planned asset management.
CSS Wales had previously written to the government about replacing the LGBI.
‘We’re going to go back to Welsh Government to reinforce the message. We’re hopeful, but the signals are that there’s nothing to replace it,’ said Mr Wheeldon.
Graham Parry, Caerphilly CBC’s highway operations group manager, told councillors this week: ‘Additional works which include carriageway reconstruction, highway resurfacing, footway resurfacing and bridge strengthening schemes had been funded by the LGBI; this ended March this year without a ready replacement, so drastically reducing the capacity for proactive planned works and schemes. This will lead to an increase in the reactive works to repair the roads and pathways on an ad-hoc basis.’
Current budgets equated to a highways renewal rate of once every 300 years, which would cause inherent difficulties as the authority attempted to reprofile its reactive maintenance to support a more planned approach.
Savings of 20% are scheduled by 2018 at the council. With capital funding for upgrading of vehicle restraint barriers reduced from £50,000 to £38,000, Mr Parry said only the ‘highest priority risk areas’ could be serviced.