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The report of the 1997 National road Maintenance Condition Survey ...
The report of the 1997 National road Maintenance Condition Survey

(NRMCS) on the condition of roads and footways in England and Wales

has been published.

The report provides the results from the NRMCS visual survey, which

has been carried out annually since 1977 to monitor changes in the

visual condition of the road network (excluding motorways which are

difficult to survey visually). It also provides the results of a

structural survey of local authority principal roads and of a similar

survey of motorways and trunk roads.

Results from the visual survey for 1997 show that:

- Overall (ie for all road classes) condition in 1997 was

the worst recorded by the survey and, following several years in

which condition had been little changed, showed a marked

deterioration as compared to 1996.

- The visual condition of all purpose trunk roads improved in

1997, continuing the trend evident since the mid 1980s; this

improvement in visual condition, in a single year, is not

inconsistent with the slight deterioration in the structural

condition of trunk roads (see below). In contrast to trunk roads,

the condition of local roads declined sharply to reach the worst

level recorded by the survey.

- The condition of roadside footways (ie 'pavements')

deteriorated with an increased incidence of severe unevenness


The results of the structural survey suggest that in England and

Wales, with respect to maintenance need, there was a relatively minor

deterioration in the condition of all purpose trunk roads in 1997 and

a more marked deterioration in the condition of motorways. The

structural condition of local authority principal roads deteriorated

sharply in 1997.


1. The annual NRMCS is sponsored jointly by the Local Government

Association, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the

Regions, and by the Highways Agency.

2. The visual survey has been carried out annually since 1977 by

asking local authority inspectors to examine a sample of sites on all

roads, except motorways, for the presence of certain types of defect

visible at the road surface. Results are published in terms of

defects indices which enable trends in the condition of the road

network to be monitored.

3. The structural condition survey of local authority principal

roads was started in 1992 to enable estimates to be made of the

residual life of the road network. Residual life is the life

remaining in the structure and surface of a road before it reaches an

'investigatory' condition at which point the rate of deterioration is

no longer predictable. The concept of residual life is similar to the

'shelf life' of an edible product sold in a supermarket; a negative

residual life is an indicator of potential maintenance need and does

not necessarily mean that a road is no longer serviceable.

4. Copies of the report are available from:


Highways Maintenance Data Unit

Zone 1/26

Great Minster House

76 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DR

Tel: 0171 271 3817 (After 23 May 0171 890 3092)

Fax: 0171 271 3752 (After 23 May 0171 676 2165)


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