£80m investment to improve city’s highways

Smithdown Road

Liverpool is to invest £80m over the next eight years in improving the condition of the city’s highways network.

The move is expected to deliver major savings for the city by reducing urgent and on-going highway repairs – which can often be more costly than a planned improvement programme – and reducing public liability claims.

The city’s Cabinet will be asked, on Friday 21 February, to give the go-ahead to the plans, which will drastically cut Liverpool’s £256m highways maintenance backlog by 2022.

Under the proposals, major work will take place to improve the poorest sections of the highway network, particularly the strategic gateways into Liverpool and key links within the city. The work, which will include carriageway resurfacing and pothole repairs, will be carried out over eight years, avoiding simultaneous work on neighbouring routes, to keep disruption to a minimum.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “A lack of investment – primarily due to a shortage of central government funding – over a number of years, has seen our roads continue to deteriorate. I am constantly talking to local people about the potholes and damaged road surfaces which not only damage cars, but damage our city’s image. We want to take significant steps in putting that right.

“The delivery of £6m road improvements at Sefton Park was one of my first priorities as Mayor and has transformed the experience of driving and cycling around the park. I’m determined that as many of our key roads as possible are brought up to a similarly high standard.”

Liverpool City Council would secure £80m of funding for the work by using money which is known as ‘capital and capital investment’. This is money which the City Council is not allowed to spend on day-to day services but which can only be spent of property and assets, such as land and our roads. In household terms, capital is similar to borrowing through a mortgage and using the money to buy a house or pay for an extension.

The city council will also seek to identify sources of additional private and other public sector funding, including utility companies, throughout the programme, to help finance the work.

Currently, the city council receives approximately £3.5m each year from central government for the maintenance of its highways, including carriageways, footways, street lighting, and highway structures. This annual funding will be directed towards the on-going maintenance of roads not included in the £80m investment programme, such as unclassified roads, and B and C roads.

Mayor Anderson added: “We know that significant investment is required to improve our highways network. But we also understand the huge economic benefits of well-maintained, high-quality highways. They keep traffic flowing, keep vehicle running costs low, and by ensuring people and goods can move efficiently, make our city a more desirable place to live, work, visit and do business.

“This work will significantly reduce our highways maintenance backlog over the coming years, and as such, is an important component in the on-going regeneration and development of our city.”

Key areas which could benefit from the city’s £80m highways investment include:

• Islington & surrounding areas
• Kensington/Prescot Road (Low Hill to Newton Road)
• Parliament Street and Upper Parliament Street
• St James Street/St James Place/Park Place
• Smithdown Road/Allerton Road
• Scotland Road/Kirkdale Road/ Walton Road/County Road
• Walton Vale/County Road
• East Lancashire Road
• Edge Lane

Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Tim Moore, said: “These proposals are hugely important for Liverpool. Our highways network has been in desperate need of investment for many years and this approach gives us the opportunity to unlock funding which can drive up the quality of roads across our city.

“We are identifying those routes which carry huge volumes of traffic, which are of the most strategic importance to the city, and which are in poor condition. We will then deliver a programme which not only improves those roads, but which ensures they remain in good condition for many years to come. We will also be looking to take the opportunity to introduce new cycle lanes where appropriate.

“This investment will be welcomed by motorists who have demanded that something is done to improve the condition of our roads. We have listened, and we are taking action.”

Roads will be prioritised based on condition and other factors, such as strategic importance, economic benefits, development potential of the area and the cost of on-going maintenance. The programme will continually evolve and a revised programme will be prepared annually to meet the changing needs of the city.

Robust engineering techniques will be used to ensure that the roads will be durable into the future, and condition data for each road section will be monitored throughout the programme delivery period.

The Highway Network Investment Programme will be delivered by Amey LG Limited, under the Council’s existing contract for Highways.

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• The Council has developed a draft Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP), which will be key in determining priorities for investment. The plan will be presented to Cabinet in the coming months, paving the way to the development of a full programme of works which will, again, be presented to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

• The issue of deteriorated roads is not specific to Liverpool. Local authority maintained roads across the country have also seen varying degrees of deterioration which have accelerated due to poor weather conditions.

• The current maintenance allocations from central government allow for annual capital maintenance of only approximately 0.6% of the city’s total network length of 1561km; a very small proportion of the network year-on-year.