The Road Union (URF), which stands as a representation for the economic participants in the road and automobile sectors, has voiced its concerns over the increasing lack of investment, mainly in the rail infrastructure, in the French roads. This issue was brought to the forefront during the URF meeting on Tuesday.
The URF has provided some alarming statistics to support its claims. In the expenditure budget of public administrations dedicated to operations and investments for 2022, a significant 57% was allocated to the rail network, whereas a meager 15% was devoted to the road infrastructure.
Furthermore, the URF has revealed that €15.7 billion was spent on roads in 2022, which is a decline of 10.4% from the expenditure made in 2012. However, it is important to mention that the roadways generated a revenue of €47.8 billion for the State and local communities in the same year. This revenue was generated from various sources such as taxes on fuel and insurance, and vehicle registration documents, to name a few.
Jean-Pierre Paseri, who presides over Routes de France, an organization that represents road manufacturers, has expressed his concern over this issue. He points out that expenses related to road maintenance are witnessing a significant drop, which is even more noticeable when we take inflation into account.
A “slow degradation”
The Road Observatory, in its annual survey conducted in collaboration with administrations and manufacturers, has confirmed the gradual deterioration of the roads that has been observed in the past. Although some improvements were made in 2020 and additional efforts were taken in 2021 to repair the roads in the worst condition, the overall trend of degradation continues.
The state of the departmental roads, which had witnessed a decline in 2019, has improved slightly, as per the same study.
On a positive note, road safety has improved. The number of fatalities on the mainland French roads in 2023 was 3% lower compared to the previous year. This marks a 2.3% decrease from the statistics of 2019.
The president of the URF, Thierry Archambault, has urged for an increase in investments to tackle these issues. Speaking during a press conference, he emphasized the importance of making these investments more effective. He asserted that the decarbonization of transport cannot be achieved without improving the state of the roads. He also clarified that they do not favor one mode of transport over the other, but rather believe that each mode has its own area of importance.
Jean-Pierre Paseri also expressed his views on the matter, stating that the funds allocated towards the railway are a compensation for past under-maintenance. However, he stressed the need to invest in roads to avoid a similar situation of underinvestment in the future.
It is crucial to note that road traffic accounted for 27.8% of France’s CO2 emissions in 2019, with private cars contributing to 15.7% of these emissions, according to the public service for data and statistical studies.