Council admits road quality will get worse because there isn’t enough money to fix them
Swansea faces a £54 million road maintenance backlog
Swansea’s roads are expected to deteriorate because not enough money is being spent maintaining them, according to a council report.
The amount of money currently allocated on planned maintenance, said the report, is half of what is required — this despite numerous potholes repaired each year by contractors across the county.
Swansea’s principal roads were judged to be in the second best condition out of Wales’s 22 local authority areas three years ago. The most recent figures suggest Swansea has slipped to fourth in the table.
The report, which includes a review of the highways maintenance service, is going before a councillor scrutiny group this Wednesday.
Facts and figures in the report include:
– There is a £54 million road maintenance backlog in Swansea
– Swansea has 1,102km of carriageway to maintain, and 1,500km of pavements
– £2.2 million will be spent this year on routine road maintenance
– Just under £2 million will be spent on planned road and pavement upgrades
– An additional £1 million is being spent on pothole repairs
– The number of roads in poor condition are expected to more than double by 2026
– Highways maintenance directly employs 77 staff, with 13 senior staff and the head of service leaving in the last five years
– It costs £34,000 per km to maintain non-trunk roads over their lifetime, the Welsh average is £8,800 per km and the figure for Swansea is £7,000.
“The council has committed additional funding to highways maintenance over recent years,” said the report, which comes a month before councillors agree a service-wide budget for 2018/19.
“However, deterioration of the highway network is inevitable with current funding which stands at approximately 50 per cent of that required to maintain a steady state condition.”
The review of the highways service said planned road maintenance was far more cost effective than repairing damaged surfaces.
Repairing a pothole, it said, may cost £50 to £100 per square metre compared to £15 per square metre as part of planned resurfacing.
But the pothole repair teams, together with a 48-hour repair scheme, have proved popular in Swansea.
As an urban authority with lots of commuters, Swansea’s roads are more heavily used than those in Powys, for example.
Sections of Fabian Way , which is having new street lighting installed between the Earlswood roundabout and Baldwin’s Bridge, are among those showing wear and tear.
Fabian Way commuter Mark Lewis, 40, said: “Coming into the city today I tried to avoid a pothole where the Welcome to Swansea sign is, but I hit an even bigger one instead in the same lane.”
The report going before councillors said Swansea’s highway maintenance service carried out some high-quality work, despite being an easy target for criticism.
And there were only six successful claims made for vehicle damage against the council in 2015/16, compared to 17 in Neath Port Talbot and 51 in Cardiff.
The current administration is also proposing to recruit three extra highways and transport staff as part of its 2018/19 budget proposals.
Referring the pothole repair scheme last week, councillor Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment, said: “We made a commitment under the pothole pledge to tackle repairs reported to us and I’m delighted that overall we have stuck to our promise.
“It’s helped give residents confidence that we are doing what they ask us to do.”