The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK (CILT) has warned that increased investment in the maintenance and development of the UK’s local and national road network is urgently in the interests of both road safety and economic well being. CILT says that the weather problems of the last few weeks, and the heavy impact on many roads causing potholes and cracks, have demonstrated the essential need for the UK to have adequate, safe and reliable transport systems across all modes – road, rail, sea and air.
CILT Chief Executive Steve Agg says: ‘The bad weather has presented those responsible for transport operations with enormous challenges. At this moment it is appropriate to congratulate all of those involved for quite literally, keeping the UK show on the road. Our thanks go to the Highways Agency, to county councils and to local councils for their work in maintaining, as far as has been possible, the availability of road space. And, of course, we must be grateful to the freight logistics industry for continuing to deliver the goods and services on which we all rely, with relatively minimal delays. Similarly, we must thank those involved with the provision of rail, sea and air services who have continued to supply the best possible service under the extreme weather difficulties. That has been the good news.
‘But, there is very bad news too. We are beginning to see widespread damage to both trunk and local road surfaces with the appearance of substantial numbers of potholes, cracks and similar decay. These problems result in road safety hazards and costly damage to vehicles. We understand that economic conditions mean budget savings must be made – but cutting transport infrastructure maintenance spending will prove a false economy as necessary repairs have to be made.
‘Sadly, it is very clear that, for many years, there has been a lack of adequate funding for road maintenance in order to avoid the sort of damage created by the latest freeze. Maintaining roads to the correct standard in good weather helps protect against increased and unnecessary damage in bad – a case of ‘a stitch in time’. Despite report after report, and survey after survey, all warning of the problem, this has not been done
‘An economy as advanced and sophisticated as ours in the UK relies on efficient transport networks in order to service its needs to move people and goods. As such it is important not only to invest in the construction of both urban and trunk roads adequate to carry the weight of traffic without costly congestion, but also to properly maintain the existing network in order that it may work at the maximum capacity and reliability. At the same time we must ensure that our overall transport investment covers all modes.
‘The efficient transportation of people and goods is an absolutely key ingredient in our economy and underpins the way we live. But, at present, we simply do not invest enough either on the maintenance and renewal of our current infrastructure or on new projects in order to satisfy our future needs.
‘Yet again problems with holes in the road have demonstrated the consequences of failing to deal with a problem. Both this Government and the next – of whatever colour – need to recognise that our transport infrastructure is a precious asset which requires proper care. The latest freeze shows that we simply must invest more in the maintenance of our infrastructure – if we don’t, then for sure the next one will cost us even more.’