On your marks, get set... go
17:01 14 January 2015
With a £6bn purge on potholes, motoring editor Andy Russell hopes there will be some money left to sort out disappearing, dangerous road markings.
A third of motorists put tackling the pothole problem at the top of their wish list and 2015 will see a start to the dream becoming reality. The government has earmarked a record £6bn fund for potholes and local road improvements over the next six years. And, although the Local Government Association says “there is still a very long way to go to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch”, it has to be seen as progress in the right direction.
I hope it will also mean some of the disappearing road markings on well-worn stretches of highway also being repainted and refreshed.
I, like many motorists, have noticed how white lines, directional arrows and other warnings on the road have been fading or wiped out by crumbling surfaces and a patchwork of minor repairs.
It’s all right if you know where you are going but can be a hazard when in a strange town or city.
Between Christmas and new year, my wife and I visited our son in Bradford and barely-visible road markings on the approach to many multi-lane roundabouts proved particularly wearing to me too when I found myself in the wrong lane.
It wasn’t helped by a late-reacting satellite-navigation system that seemed confused by the terms ‘turn left’, ‘bear left’ and ‘straight on’. But at least I helped confuse it by bearing what I thought was left only to end up at a huge car park in the dark which, with so many aisles and no entry signs, left me disorientated.
Back to the road maintenance funding, the Department for Transport estimates the £976m yearly investment will be enough to fill about 18 million potholes across the country but councils say the cash will not cover the overall funding gap on road repairs.
The east of England has been allocated £644.6m to support long-term maintenance scheduling rather than short-term fixes.
More than £4.7bn will be shared between 115 councils, while another £575m will be available through a challenge fund for maintaining infrastructure such as junctions, bridges and street lighting.
An incentive fund of £578m will also open in 2016 to reward councils delivering value in carrying out cost-effective improvements.
Let’s hope it’s the road to recovery.