The Local Government Association is warning of a pothole crisis if councils are stripped of even more funding in next month’s Autumn Statement.
The association is calling on government to free up money and invest it in resurfacing the network.
Industry sources said the Government is receptive to the plea and could be preparing a £200m windfall for road maintenance in the Autumn Statement.
Extra cash for resurfacing saves billions in the long term because reactive repairs are 20 times more expensive than laying a good quality surface which lasts for many years.
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “Keeping roads safe is one of the most important jobs councils do and over the past two years they have fixed almost four million potholes, one every 16 seconds.
“However, for decades Whitehall funding for repairs has not kept pace with demand.
“Damage caused by severe winters and widespread flooding has compounded this deterioration and councils are now contending with massive cuts to roads maintenance funding and millions of pounds in compensation payouts for pothole damage.
“It’s estimated that it would now cost about £10 billion to bring our roads up to scratch.
“Notions that the widespread resurfacing which is desperately needed can be paid for by efficiency savings and smarter use of money are pure fantasy.
“Unless something fundamentally changes, many councils will struggle to keep on top of repairs.
“Should they have their funding cut further or face another severe winter the impact on our already crumbling roads could be catastrophic.
“Re-directing funding into road maintenance would offer an instant boost to growth, improve road safety and save billions of pounds down the line from the current false economy of reactive repairs which many councils are trapped in.
“Thousands of jobs in the construction and supply sector would be created immediately and there would be many mid-term economic benefits by reducing the cost to business caused by the current state of many roads.”
The Department for Transport is reducing the Highways Maintenance Budget it gives councils by £442m over the four years of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
By 2014/15 councils will get £164 million a year less than in 2010/11 – a 19% drop.
This is on top of the 28% cut in core funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government.