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Quick-fix repairs add to the long-term costs

REPEATED year-on-year budget cuts have forced most council highway engineering departments to scrap or seriously curtail structural maintenance programmes in favour of little more than superficial surface dressing.

They accept this papering over the cracks with a few millimetres of tar and chipping does, in the long term, do more harm than good. It waterproofs the surface and improves skid resistance but offers no structural improvement to the road beneath. Even such minor reactive repair is now expected to last at least double its seven-year design life.

The absence of any proper resurfacing or structural rebuild programme means the underlying carriageway condition continues to deteriorate unseen.

Often this leads to sudden and total pavement collapse, forcing emergency piecemeal rebuilds which can cost significantly more than any planned maintenance operation.