Balfour Beatty looks at road resilience for a robust local roads network
Balfour Beatty has today published its latest policy paper, “Road to resilience: delivering a robust local roads network”. The paper explores the importance of prioritising 2019 funding towards local road maintenance and the roles that both client and contractor must look at road resilience to ensure that local roads are fit for both the road user and the future.
Whilst the additional funds announced in the 2018 Autumn Budget are welcome, there is a significant difference between the condition of local roads and the Strategic Road Network. In spite of funding challenges, the Local Government Association estimate that local authorities fix a pothole every 21 seconds[i] and with more extreme weather conditions, a growing population and a backlog of repairs currently required, the wear and tear on local roads is set to increase.
In its latest paper, Balfour Beatty sets out eight key points and recommendations to help address these issues:
- We must move to a system of stable, long-term funding for local roads;
- The funding for local roads should be ring-fenced reducing the requirement for local authorities to make difficult choices between competing priorities;
- We should include the long-term, ring-fenced funding for local roads in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review in 2019;
- The bidding process to access funding for local authorities should be reviewed, adopting the Department for Transport’s needs based formula, which would enable authorities and their delivery partners the ability to quickly plan and priorities works;
- Local authorities must ensure new spending is spent wisely, leveraging advanced engineering and innovation;
- Local authorities must be prepared for an initial capital outlay if they are to benefit from the efficiencies gained by using new and innovative approaches;
- It is acknowledged that local authorities may, given budgetary constraints, opt for tried and tested approaches which have less of an element of risk;
- We must address the skills shortage and the reduction in expertise within the highway sector, as it represents a significant risk to the effective maintenance of local roads.
Steve Helliwell, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Living Places, said: “Balfour Beatty has a proud history of working on roads of all sizes, across the country. Local roads are the lifeblood of local economies. However, with pressures on local authorities only set to increase, it is imperative that we work together and utilise the benefits of technology to get the most from the available funding and provide a local road network fit for today and the future.”