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Cost of bringing bridges up to scratch continues to mount

The one-off cost of carrying out urgent work on council-managed road bridges in Great Britain has increased by a third in the last year, according to the RAC Foundation.

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An estimated £6.7bn is needed to carry out all the work that would be required on the near 72,000 local authority bridges

Analysis by the organisation of data for the 2017-18 financial year shows that an estimated £6.7bn is needed to carry out all the work that would be required on the near 72,000 local authority bridges; up from £5bb a year earlier.

The study is based on data provided by 200 (out of a total of 207) councils across England, Scotland and Wales, which finds that 3,177 (4.4%) of the 71,652 bridges managed by these councils are categorised as ‘sub-standard’. This means they are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles now seen on our roads, including lorries of up to 44 tonnes.

Between them, councils say they would ideally want to bring 2,026 (64%) of the 3,177 sub-standard bridges back up to full carrying capacity. However, budget restrictions mean they anticipate that only 343 of these will have the necessary work carried out on them within the next five years.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Establishing the condition of our highway bridges provides a litmus test for the condition of our road network more generally, and the condition is worrying.

“Ancient bridges on rural back roads might not be the highest priority for repair, but the risk we run is that sub-standard structures on some roads result in heavier vehicles having to make lengthy detours.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.