The people's network

15th Nov 2023

Effective maintenance of local roads offers a host of benefits, including lower risk, rapid results and an excellent return on investment

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At the recent 2023 World Road Congress in Prague, the UKRLG shared one of its key reports with an international audience. Produced in collaboration between local authority members of the Asset Management Board and AtkinsRéalis, ‘The Case for Investing in Highway Maintenance’ described the investment needed for the English local road network both now and in the future, along with the significant benefits that are aligned with the government’s core policy objectives.

At the event, John Paterson, technical director at AtkinsRéalis, said: “It’s great to share the UK’s work with international colleagues to help make the global case for highway maintenance. The benefits are broader than many think and will improve socio-economic well-being across the board.”

The presentation was very well received, with a French colleague observing that “the value of existing roads is grossly under-appreciated in high-income countries, unlike the life-changing value of new roads in LMICs.”

A £500bn network

It is interesting to note that as the report was being presented, the government announced that they would redirect HS2 funding to revolutionise transport across the North and Midlands. Part of this funding redirection is proposed to improve local transport and invest in roads and road resurfacing.

The local road network is vital to life both now and in the future. Valued at almost £500bn, it’s the largest physical asset the public sector owns. Other transport infrastructure, such as the rail network and airport systems, play critical roles in national socio-economic activity and well-being. However, none are as indispensable as the local road network, since virtually every journey begins and ends on a local road.

Value for money

The local road network is a huge and complex system that includes the inspection, maintenance and renewal of roads, footways, cycle routes, bridges, tunnels, retaining walls, lighting, drainage, traffic signals, trees, land and much more. Funding for local road maintenance provides an excellent return on investment, with a much lower risk than new infrastructure projects and a proven ability to quickly start and finish via ‘shovel-ready’ schemes.

Longer-term funding certainty will also help to maximise the advantages of good quality local roads. In advance of the government spending review, the local road sector prepared a statement structured around the Public Value Framework (PVF) developed by the Treasury.

This response is supported by details of the 13 areas within the PVF complemented by an extensive set of case studies that provide examples of good practice that reflect wider practice across the sector rather than one-offs.

When it comes to maintaining our extensive and vital network of local roads, filling potholes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Read the report

The UKRLG’s Case for Investing in Highway Maintenance report can be downloaded at

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