A step change is required in the planning, funding and delivery of roads maintenance services to address a £3 billion backlog in repair and improvement works on Scotland’s roads network, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, the Committee makes a series of policy recommendations to address maintenance backlogs and ensure that both the trunk roads and local roads networks are fit for purpose.
Evidence to the Committee highlighted the extent of the problem, with around 37 per cent of the local roads network and 13 per cent of trunk roads requiring repair.
The Committee calls for the development of a National Transport Improvement Project, supported by substantial additional investment in roads maintenance by the Scottish Government to reduce the backlog, and to include an appropriate regional delivery model to deliver more efficient and sustainable ongoing management and maintenance of local roads.
Committee Convener, Edward Mountain MSP, said:
“The Committee is concerned that that there is an estimated £1.2 billion backlog for maintenance of trunk roads, the main arteries of Scotland’s roads network, and around £1.8 billion needs to be spent to bring the local roads network up to a satisfactory standard.
“The Committee has taken evidence from a range of stakeholders including those with road engineering expertise, organisations representing different categories of road user as well as local authority and Scottish Government interests.
“Whilst the Committee acknowledges the pressures on local government budgets, it is clear that not enough has been spent on local roads over a number of years.
“Evidence heard by the Committee also suggests that current expenditure levels will be insufficient to prevent an ongoing deterioration in the condition of roads across Scotland.
“That is why the Committee is agreed that a new approach is needed to make significant inroads into addressing the accepted maintenance backlogs and ensure that, moving forward, road maintenance is appropriately managed and resourced so that the roads network is truly fit for purpose.”
The Committee is recommending that the Scottish Government should give maintenance of Scotland’s trunk and local roads networks a significantly enhanced profile as part of its development of National Transport Strategy 2 (NTS2).
In particular, it argues that the National Transport Improvement Project focusing on roads maintenance should be included in the revised Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, with the overarching objective of delivering a package of action which will significantly reduce the maintenance backlog on both trunk and local roads across Scotland over a defined period.
The Committee also calls for the proposed National Transport Improvement Project on road maintenance to include proposals for:
• better integration of cycle and footpath maintenance with wider road maintenance work to support policies designed to encourage active travel;
• improved, more robust inspection mechanisms for roads maintenance and utilities work;
• replicating the agreed routes and targeted fund approach which operates for the timber industry in other sectors, particularly in rural areas where HGVs put pressure on local roads; and
• making roads maintenance operations more sustainable, contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
Find the Committee’s letter here.