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Local road maintenance slips deeper into hole

LOCAL AUTHORITIES have reported a 20% increase in their road maintenance backlog for the second year running.

Outstanding work on local roads is now estimated at £4.9bn.

The Institution of Civil Engineers' 1998 Local Transport Survey describes the road network as 'near crisis point' with local authorities pessimistic about the Government's commitment to maintenance.

'Tackling the problem will require a substantial injection of resources,' said ICE transportation board chairman David Bayliss.

He said that there was overwhelming local authority support for fund raising measures such as congestion and workplace parking charges set out in the Government's recent Integrated Transport White Paper.

But the survey reveals concern about how much of this cash would be earmarked for road maintenance.

'The general drift from government is that any extra cash raised will have to be spent directly on public transport. It is something of a moot point that much of this cash will go into road maintenance - most people regard this funding as a government responsibility,' said Bayliss.

More than half of the 203 local authorities responded to the ICE survey. This year local authorities estimated that they needed £998M more than they were allocated to carry out their highest priority maintenance work.

Government investment priorities for roads are on the agenda at NCE's conference on Partnership Solutions for Integrated Transport being held in London on 28 January. For full details see page 17.

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