A new report reveals that sustained investment in Lancashire’s roads is paying off, with the county’s main routes now in much better condition than a few years ago.
The aim of Lancashire County Council’s Transport Asset Management Plan (TAMP) is to improve the overall state of infrastructure such as roads, bridges and streetlights by using survey data to target repairs at the right time, before more expensive and time-consuming work is needed.
This approach, which can be summed up as ‘prevention is better than cure’, is recommended by the Department for Transport to help councils make the most of every pound they spend on maintenance.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet will be considering a progress update on the plan at their next meeting on Thursday 2 September.
The report sets out that the state of Lancashire’s A, B, and C roads has improved by 43% since the plan was launched in 2014, according to the number of faults being found by independent ‘scanner’ surveys.
This is thanks to more investment being channelled towards these most important routes during the first 5-year phase of the plan, and means that less funding should now be needed to keep them in good condition.
The report also contains the first ever full appraisal of the condition of the county’s urban residential and quieter rural roads, which have been receiving more investment since the TAMP moved into its second phase last year.
As no national standard exists, the county council has developed its own method of assessing these types of road using video surveys. The results show that around half of these ‘unclassified’ routes are in need of maintenance, with a quarter of them in very poor condition.
More investment in bridges, streetlights and traffic signals is planned during the third and final phase of the 15-year plan. The report outlines the strategy of spending enough on these assets to maintain them in their current overall condition, allowing more investment to be focused on improving the roads during the first two phases.
The TAMP data will also be used to understand, measure and record the carbon output of the council’s annual highway resurfacing programme to allow this to be managed in future as part of the journey towards reducing the impact of services to net zero.
County Councillor Charlie Edwards, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Lancashire’s often cold and wet climate means that we will always face a challenge in keeping our roads in good condition, however it’s very pleasing to see that consistent investment in our most important A, B and C roads has made a significant difference over the last few years, with far fewer faults now being found.
“We prioritised these roads as they’re where people spend most of their journeys, and are most vital to our daily lives, ensuring that everyone can get where they need to on time, and businesses can operate efficiently.
“This report shows that our long-term plan to improve the county’s transport infrastructure is working, and confirms that that the approach of ‘prevention is better than cure’, rather than always focusing on replacing the worst first, is the right strategy and better value for money over time.
“It also means that Lancashire County Council is among the top tier of councils which receive their full share of funding from the Department for Transport by being able to demonstrate good management of our assets, and means we receive millions extra every year to improve our highways as a result.
“Having reliable condition data to inform our investment decisions is vital, and the information we now have for the first time about our residential and rural roads will be enormously helpful in the coming years as we focus on improving them.
“The scale of the task is bigger than I would have liked, but it’s more important that we know where we stand, and can adjust our future plans accordingly.
“I know this is a high priority for our residents and businesses, and I’m looking forward to seeing the difference as we invest more in these roads over the coming years.”