TfL: £900m road backlog is causing disruption

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Reduced government grant led to a pause on non-safety critical network renewals in April 2018

Transport for London (TfL) has revealed that it has a £900m road maintenance backlog and it has called for sustainable long-term funding to ensure that the capital’s roads are fit for the future.

Although the ‘lane rental’ scheme, where utility companies are charged for carrying out work on the busiest roads, has generated revenue, in April 2018 TfL placed a pause on non-safety critical renewal work on the capital’s road network that has not yet been lifted.

TfL says that while it continues to ensure that the safety of London’s roads is maintained, the current reactive method of maintenance results in more disruption and expense than a planned, proactive approach would.

An average reduction of around £700m per year in government grant to TfL is blamed for the pause. TfL says that since lane rental’s introduction in 2012, there has been a 65% increase in companies working together at the same site and a 30% rise in planned work at night.

The body charges up to £2,500 per work site, per day under the lane rental scheme. Some of that income goes towards schemes to tackle congestion.

Among the projects that have been funded are improved mapping of London’s roads and development of a robot that works in live gas mains to repair them. The robot will be used in upcoming work at Clapham Common, potentially saving up to 33 weeks of disruption.

Says Director of Network Management Glynn Barton: “Money for roads is essential. We’re making the most of every penny, maintaining a safe road network despite the loss of operating grant and no long-term funding for the maintenance of our roads. Schemes such as Lane Rental contribute vital extra income, which we are carefully investing to keep the capital moving.”