AA's concern over road maintenance backlog in Wales

Road repair work
Image caption Local authorities are responsible for maintaining about 95% of the road network in Wales

Safety concerns have been raised about the state of roads in Wales as figures suggest a massive maintenance backlog.

BBC Wales research reveals a £200m gap between the amount councils need to spend to bring roads up to scratch, and planned spending this year.

The AA said the number of potholes meant there were safety issues for road users, particularly cyclists.

The body which represents councils in Wales said resurfacing and repair work had taken place in most areas.

Councils were asked for the current estimated cost of repairs required to bring roads up to a good standard, and the estimated cost of repairs planned for 2011/12.

Based on figures received from 16 of the 22 local authorities, the total repairs needed are about £270m, but councils only plan to spend some £47m in 2011/12.

Luke Bosdet of the AA said: "It's putting plasters over the holes, then not being terribly surprised when those holes open again over the winter.

"What needs to happen is that the roads are resurfaced so the fabric of the road is reinstated.

"The problem is during the boom times, when we weren't in a period of austerity, they didn't address the roads."

He said he was concerned about safety issues caused by the state of the roads.

"The locals who travel these roads regularly will know how bad they are," he said.

"If you are on two wheels it can be pretty dangerous."

The amount needing to be spent to bring roads up to scratch varied from £36.5m in Flintshire to £8m in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Harsh weather

The Asphalt Industry Alliance's annual road maintenance survey claimed it would take 14 years to address the maintenance backlog in Wales if adequate resources were in place. The figure for England, excluding London, was 11 years.

Its 2011 report found a number of highway authorities reporting that maintenance under-funding was making roads unsafe for users.

Local authorities are responsible for maintaining about 95% of the road network in Wales while the assembly government looks after motorways and major trunk roads.

The assembly government said it did not want to comment before a new transport minister was appointed following last week's election.

However, in February, it announced it would hand over £15m to councils to mend roads damaged by heavy snow and ice before Christmas and replenish salt stocks.

It said at the time the money would help councils cope with the pressure of a second successive harsh winter.

'Pothole problem'

A Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) spokesperson said the assembly government funding had been used by all authorities across Wales, and most areas had seen resurfacing work and pothole repair work.

"However, the scale of the problem means that there will be an ongoing need to invest in our highway network and the WLGA will engage with the new Welsh Assembly Government on this issue and discuss the possibility of additional funding being made available to address the pothole problem which has affected all parts of Wales," the WLGA added.

Poor winter weather damaged many roads and created potholes, which form when water gets into road cracks and freezes, breaking up the surface.

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