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Condition of motorways sinks to 20 year low

MOTORWAYS AND urban roads in England and Wales are in a worse state now than at any time in the last 20 years, according to a government report published this week.

All-purpose trunk roads showed up better, according to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' National Road Maintenance Condition Survey for 1997. But so rapid was the deterioration of motorways and local authority roads of all types since 1996 that the report concluded: 'Overall condition in 1997 was the worst recorded by the survey and, following several years in which the condition has been little changed, showed a statistically significant deterioration as compared to 1996.'

The report gives the results of a visual survey of more than 11,500, 100m long sites on trunk, urban and rural roads carried out by 127 highway authorities and also deflectograph surveys carried out on motorways and principal roads. The visual survey picked up a 'marked deterioration' in the condition of local authority urban roads and an improvement in all purpose trunk roads.

But the deflectograph surveys indicated a decline in structural standards on trunk roads. The report says this is 'not inconsistent' with the results of the visual survey.

Trunk roads are still in better condition than in 1993, the report claims. But a 'more substantial' deterioration in motorways and the local authority principal road network meant that overall the state of the road network was the worst since the survey began in 1977.

Commenting on the report junior transport minister Glenda Jackson said: 'The results of this year's survey clearly give cause for concern. They are a worrying legacy of past under-investment in the maintenance of our roads.'

An extra £100M for motorway and trunk road maintenance has already been announced by the Government.

Jackson said that future maintenance funding levels for all classes of roads was 'under active consideration' as part of the DETR's current transport review.

Dave Parker

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