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East and Midlands roads fail to meet maintenance standards

3123033 orange smart motorway

Highways England roads in the Midlands and the East of England were below the national road maintenance target, according to the the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Highways England aims to keep 95% of its road surface in a good condition not requiring further investigation, and in 2017-18 met their national target for road surface condition for the first time ever. 

However, in the Midlands only 93.5% of roads were up to scratch and in the East that figure fell to 92.6%. The analysis is part of the ORR’s annual benchmarking report - which examines Highways England’s performance across the regions in several key areas such as road condition and user experience.  

The amount spent per lane mile on highways maintenance also increased for the year 2017-18, however the ORR stressed this doesn’t necessary mean a reduction in efficiency of road maintenance.

The spending per lane mile is heavily influenced by larger road works and upgrade schemes, as well as the length and type of roads in the region, according to the ORR benchmarking report. 

Delays to larger schemes also had knock-on consequences for user satisfaction, which the report identified as being lowest in the North. 

ORR senior highways economist, and the author of the report Adam Spencer-Bickle told New Civil Engineer that in the coming year Highways England could do more to improve road user satisfaction in the North West.  

“I would like to see an improvement in user satisfaction in the north west,” Spencer-Bickle said. “I would like to see the work Highways England has been doing have an effect and for that gap to narrow.”   

User satisfaction in most regions in 2017-18 was or bordered Highways England’s national target of 90%.

However, in the North West user satisfaction was much lower at 78%. Identified factors behind this lower score include a larger number of major road schemes in the region as well as an above average number of commuters. 

“In the spending area, I would also like to see lower costs per lane mile and more convergence across the regions,” Spencer-Bickle added.  

This is the third annual benchmark report published by the ORR.  

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