Local Government Association blames lorries for potholes, but Freight Transport Association dismisses its arguments.
HGV traffic rises 5% in 2015/16
Motorists should expect a “surge” in pothole numbers as there are now more heavy goods vehicles pounding the roads, The UK-based Local Government Association claimed. The volume of goods transported by GB-registered lorries rose 5% - to 1.69 billion tonnes - in the 12 months to June 2016 (compared to previous year).
The Local Government Association represents the interests of hundreds of Councils throughout England and Wales. It explained:
- “lorries - particularly very heavy lorries - are massively more damaging to road surfaces than cars”;
- “the heavier the vehicle the more pressure is likely to be exerted on road surfaces”;
- “road damage rises steeply with axle weight”;
- “overloading drive axles (legal limit 11.5 tonnes) is the biggest single cause of excessive wear and tear on roads”.
The Association claimed that “chronic” underfunding contributes to a lack of maintenance. It revealed that in the remaining years of the decade, the Government plans to invest 40 times more to maintain national roads that make up 3% of the network (£1.1 million per-mile) than local roads (£27,000 per-mile). It added:
- “pothole repair time has surged from an estimated 10.9 years in 2006, to 14 years in 2016”;
- “Councils fix almost 2 million potholes a year (which is an) average of 12,000 potholes for each Local Authority;
- “the average English authority currently faces a £69 million estimated one-off cost to bring its roads up to a reasonable condition.”
Local Government Association Transport spokesman, Councillor Martin Tett, said: “Our local roads network faces an unprecedented funding crisis. The latest spike in lorries could push our local roads network over the edge. Lorries exert massively more weight on road surfaces than cars, causing them to crumble much quicker”, he said.
Freight Transport Association criticises lack of understanding
The Freight Transport Association - which represents the interests of companies that move goods by road, rail, sea and air - dismissed such claims. Head of Policy, Christopher Snelling, argued: “Freight levels on our roads are still not back to the pre-recession totals of 2006”.
Therefore: “The assertion that HGVs are solely responsible for the increased number of potholes on Britain’s roads is incorrect. It also indicates a clear lack of understanding of the impact of Freight vehicles."
“Larger lorries do not cause increased damage to the road surface – in fact, they have more axles which spread payloads more evenly. When combined with road-friendly twin tyres and road-friendly suspension, this reduces the impact of road usage by lorries.”
“Moving to a greater number of smaller vehicles would not ease the problem, but would simply compound the impact on an already weakened infrastructure”, Mr Snelling concluded.