Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 3°C

Search

£6.7billion needed to ensure bridges are up to scratch

PUBLISHED: 01:00 07 January 2019

Weak Bridge sign in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREGG BROWN

Weak Bridge sign in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREGG BROWN

Archant

Suffolk and Essex are among the top 10 counties in Britain deemed to have the highest number of substandard bridges, it has been revealed.

Suffolk and Essex are among the top 10 counties in Britain deemed to have the highest number of substandard bridges, it has been revealed.

The rankings emerged in a report identifying that the maintenance backlog for council-owned road bridges in Britain has increased by a third in 12 months.

An estimated £6.7billion is needed to ensure all the structures are up to scratch, according to analysis of 2017/18 data by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation.

This is up from £5billion a year earlier with Essex having 167 substandard bridges, second to Devon with 244, and Suffolk joint fourth with Cornwall on 140, just behind Somerset on 160.

Some 3,177 bridges in the worst condition have been categorised as “substandard”, meaning they are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles. Many of these structures are subject to weight restrictions while others are under programmes of increased monitoring or even managed decline.

Some are substandard because they were built to earlier design standards, while others have deteriorated through age and use.

Between them, local authorities say they would ideally want to bring 2,026 of these bridges back to full carrying capacity.

But budget constraints mean they anticipate that only 343 of these will have the necessary work carried out on them within the next five years.

The analysis is based on figures provided by 200 out of the 207 local highway authorities across Britain.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said establishing the condition of highway bridges is a “litmus test for the condition of our road network” and described the findings as “worrying”.

He added: “While we should draw some comfort from the good knowledge highway authorities have about the strength and structural integrity of their bridges, the fact is that many thousands are subject to enhanced monitoring, speed and weight restrictions, and the cost of bringing them up to scratch is continuing to mount.”

Martin Tett, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association representing 370 councils in England and Wales, claimed the study “underlines the chronic need for more investment in existing local roads”.

He said: “While the extra one-off £420 million funding announced in the Budget will help, only long-term, consistent and fairer government investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads and bridges that is desperately needed.”

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists