Agenda item

Highway Maintenance Investment

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.


3.1       The Cabinet considered a report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.


3.2       It was RESOLVED to:


1)    Note what has been achieved with the £5.8m additional investment approved In November 2021.


2) a) Note the impact of the 2022/23 winter on road condition and, in accordance with our highways asset management plan agree the following to bring investment in 2023/24 to £28.2m. Agree additional one off £5.6m spend on highways maintenance comprising £2.5m patching work and £3.1m drainage work, to be funded from the Priority Outcomes and Transformation Reserve, which includes the balance on the 2022/23 Services Grant set aside for one-off investment;


b) Agree to increase the capital programme for 2023/24 by £5.1m to maintain steady state and;


c) Agree, subject to the County Council agreeing to increase the Capital Programme, that a further £5m be spent on highway maintenance to provide early improvements and resilience.


d) Agree to lobby the Government, directly and with other partners, to provide funding for highways sufficient to ensure East Sussex roads are adequate for the needs of residents and businesses.




3.3       The additional £5.8m one-off investment in highway maintenance was successfully delivered in 2022/23 with the exception of some of the road markings and sign replacement works that have been delayed to the current financial year due to supply chain and weather issues. The additional £2.5m in patching paid dividends and was clearly noticeable in the autumn of 2022.


3.4       However, the exceptional winter of 2022/23 has partly mitigated the effect of the additional patching programmes and increased the backlog of patching works (to deal with non-intervention level potholes) to £2.5m. Therefore, further one-off investment of £2.5m will continue to tackle the backlog of patching and prevent intervention level potholes forming. This will provide additional early resilience to a weakened network during the current year in preparation for the coming winter months.


3.5       The very wet winter has generated the highest number of carriageway potholes since the contract with Costain began in 2016 with the relationship between wet winters and pothole numbers clearly evident. Alongside this there has been a visible deterioration in carriageway condition with some areas experiencing sudden surface failure.


3.6       The experience of the 2022/23 winter, and the impact it has had on the network, has shown that road condition will continue to deteriorate at an accelerating rate if similar winters are experienced in the future and funding continues at current levels.


3.7       The investment modelling undertaken considers how to address this and the levels of funding required. The modelling is based on using up to date maintenance costs to account for higher costs since 2021/22; the last condition information available from the September 2022 road condition surveys; estimating the impact on condition on the network following the 2022/23 winter; and using some engineering assumptions about the make-up (construction materials) of the roads.


3.8       Based on the outputs from the modelling additional investment is needed to achieve our current road condition targets know as steady state. Road condition targets, across the different types of highways, of 4%, 4% and 14% (averaged as 10% overall). The level of investment needs to be increased from £18.1m to £23.2m per annum as a minimum.


3.9       Further investment in road condition also needs the current £3.1m backlog of drainage issues to be addressed to protect the proposed investment in improving road condition. This and the ongoing patching of non-intervention level potholes through the investment of another £2.5m to reduce the accumulated backlog. This one off funding is in addition to the £28.2 increase in the capital programme.

Supporting documents: