Condition of SRN worsens as councils tread water

Chris Ames

The apparent worsening of the condition of the strategic road network (SRN) ‘is worrying and demands investigation,’ the RAC has said.

According to Road Conditions in England to March 2019, published by the Department for Transport, 4% of Highways England managed A roads, and 7% of motorways ‘should have been considered for maintenance’ in 2018/19.

Both figures rose over the past year, with the percentage for A roads reaching its highest level for over a decade.

The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: ‘The apparent worsening of road conditions on our motorways and major A roads, which are generally much better funded than roads under council control, is worrying and demands investigation.

‘Research we have conducted also suggests that while road surfaces on these routes continues to be an issue for drivers, they are also becoming increasingly concerned about other issues such as the condition of safety barriers, signage visibility and roadside litter.’

DfT officials suggested that the relatively small size of the SRN, which accounts for around 2% of the road network in England and carries approximately one-third of all traffic, ‘could mean these figures are subject to fluctuation, as a change in the proportion denotes a relatively small change in the amount of road’.

In 2018/19, 3% of A roads; 6% of B and C roads; and 16% of unclassified (U) roads managed by councils were categorised as red, meaning that they should have been considered for maintenance.

Officials said the condition of local authority managed roads has remained stable in recent years, following a period of gradual improvement for classified A, B and C roads.

Mr Lyes commented: ‘These figures chime with the RAC’s Pothole Index data, which suggests the overall state of the UK’s roads is not getting any worse – although clearly there some areas of the country where road condition is worsening, perhaps as a result of localised bad weather.

‘While recent funding announcements, combined with a mild winter, might have stemmed the pothole problem, the reality is that local authorities still lack the certainty of long-term funding to make real improvements to their road networks, and remain unable to shift their maintenance procedures from being reactive to being preventative.’

The main measure of condition in the report is the Road Condition Indicator, which is made up of several parameters such as cracking and rutting that combine to give an overall measure of the state of the road and an indication of surface condition.

Both Highways England and local authorities also measure and report on skidding resistance. Officials said skidding resistance figures do not necessarily reflect safety levels on the network but rather sites where further investigation is required

In 2018/19, two per cent of Highways England managed motorways and 12% of its A roads, required further investigation, both falling from a peak in 2015/16. For council managed roads, 28% of motorways and A roads in England required further investigation in the period 2016/17 to 2018/19, an increase of two percentage points from the period 2013/14 to 2015/16.

In 2018/19, 6.2% of council managed A roads and 3.3% of minor roads (B, C and U roads) received maintenance treatment, which officials said was slightly lower than the previous year in both cases

Surface dressing accounted for the majority of all treatments on council managed A roads and minor roads (58% and 73% respectively).

Highways England said that of the £15bn to it, there is a £6bn maintenance budget of which a proportion is spent on routine maintenance, which includes pothole repair. Defects are categorised with the aim of repairing the most serious ones within 24 hours.'

A spokesperson said: 'We know that good quality roads are important to the four million drivers that use our network each day. Safety is also our primary concern and we set stringent standards for pothole repairs on our roads. We regularly inspect our roads to help reduce the potential for potholes to form.'

Highways jobs

Collision Investigation Officer

Transport for Greater Manchester
£26,844.00 - £38,228.00 Per Annum
Are you excited by the opportunity to make a difference to the roads of Greater Manchester? Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Transport for Greater Manchester

2 x Environmental Health Officer (Food, Health & Safety)

Dacorum Borough Council
£31,218 to £39,786 (Inclusive of London Fringe Weighting) + Car Allowance   
Seeking to appoint 2 x fully qualified Environmental Health Officer’s to work within our... Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Dacorum Borough Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32.029 - £34.788
We seek an enthusiastic and experienced traffic engineer to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Head of Asset Management (Regeneration & Environment)

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£55,856 - £59,773
We have a current vacancy for the role of Head of Asset Management, and we are looking for a dynamic individual to lead the service Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Environmental Education Assistant

Brent Council
£22,779 - £24,030 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
Looking for instructors who complement our enthusiastic, motivated and friendly staff team. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Structures Asset Manager

Kent County Council
£52,713 - £58,774 per annum (salary dependent on experience) 
If you have the ability to succeed in either of these roles and are able to prioritise competing demands and objectives, coupled with... Ashford, Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Structures Senior Engineer

Kent County Council
Starting salary £33,082 per annum
Providing engineering support for maintenance of highway structures, liaising and working closely across KCC. Ashford, Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Development Management Engineer

Warwickshire County Council
£37,849 - £39,782 per annum
The successful applicant for this post will be capable of taking the lead on work within the team associated with... Warwickshire
Recruiter: Warwickshire County Council

Permit Officer – Place

Enfield London Borough Council
£27,228 - £29,241
You will have the ability to understand and learn relevant legislation and be able to work on your own initiative but also work as part of... Enfield (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Enfield London Borough Council

Senior Policy Planner

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643 – £45,704 depending on skills
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Community Services Manager

Copeland Borough Council
Competitive Salary
Looking for an energised and enthusiastic candidate to lead and focus the service through the challenges set by the Resources and Waste Strategy. Moresby, Whitehaven
Recruiter: Copeland Borough Council

Highways Infrastructure and Maintenance Manager - Highways Network

Bridgend County Borough Council
£37,813 - £40,760 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arrived inside the Highway Asset Maintenance Team within the Communities Directorate. Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recruiter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Business Support Officers - Transport Team (2 Jobs)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Within the Transport Team you will be required to work flexibly in accordance with the needs of the service, which can men... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Transportation Planning Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
ou will have an excellent knowledge and understanding of transport policy at both local and national level. Expertise of both people and... Wembley, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Commercial Contract Supervisor

Wirral Borough Council
£30,507 to £32,878
No holding back. No excuses. Just change Wirral. Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Technical Officer – Pest Control

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £23,836
This job is temporary for up to 11 months from the date of appointment to cover the absence of the current post holder. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Divisional Director Neighbourhoods & Sustainability

Glasgow City Council
£83,708 - £95,232 (LDR3a, Grade 11)
This innovative role will contribute to the Council Strategic Plan Theme of A Sustainable Low Carbon City Glasgow, Glasgow City
Recruiter: Glasgow City Council

Principal Transport Manager

Be First
Competitive Salary
As our Principal Transport Manager, you will deliver the Local Implementation Plan, ensuring the £2.4million TFL budget is used effectively London (Central), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Be First

Highway Operations Manager

Croydon London Borough Council
£43,590 - £45,585
We are seeking an enthusiastic, motivated and well organised highway operations manager Croydon (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Croydon London Borough Council

Structures and Watercourse Manager

Croydon London Borough Council
We are seeking an enthusiastic, motivated and well organised manager to look over the structures team and wider Highway section. Croydon (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Croydon London Borough Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Valuing our roads: What is a network worth?

Also inside:

Traffex review 

Diary of a flood.

Beautiful roads

Live Labs exclusive briefing 

View the latest issue

Latest Video