Laura Sharman 19 January 2018

Thousands of council bridges are ‘substandard’

Thousands of council bridges are ‘substandard’

Nearly 3,500 council-maintained road bridges have a greater risk of collapse, new figures have revealed today.

The analysis by the RAC Foundation found 3,441 structures over 1.5m in span are ‘substandard’. This includes having weight restrictions in place, bridges that are being monitored or even managed decline.

Redbridge Council had the highest proportion of substandard bridges, with all of its 25 structures being substandard.

Due to budget restrictions, councils only expect 370 of these bridges to be improved in the next five years. The one-off cost of bringing all the substandard bridges back up to perfect condition would be around £934m.

‘It is unwelcome, if unsurprising, news that the number of substandard local authority bridges appears to have risen slightly,’ said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.

‘The really worrying thing about this data is that the costs and affordability of fixing the problems are moving in opposite directions – while the estimated cost of clearing the bridge maintenance backlog has risen by 30%, an increase of a billion pounds, the amount councils are spending to maintain the total bridge stock has fallen by 18% year-on-year, from £447 million to £367m.’ T

he survey was carried out with the help of the National Bridges Group of ADEPT. Graham Cole, deputy chairman, said: ‘The increase in the headline number of reported substandard bridges is probably due to the use of more accurate data.

'Councils continue to effectively manage their bridges, including substandard bridges, in accordance with national guidelines to maintain the safety of the public.’

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