Nearly 100 bridges in region not fit to carry heaviest vehicles

Nearly 100 council-maintained bridges across the region are not up to standard, new data reveals.

Work continues to repair the Eastham Bridge which collapsed in May 2016
Work continues to repair the Eastham Bridge which collapsed in May 2016

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 89 bridges across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Powys are not fit to carry the heaviest vehicles, including lorries of up to 44 tonnes.

They are among more than 3,000 bridges across Great Britain which would need work doing to them to make them up to standard.

In the Shropshire Council area, out of 776 council-maintained bridges, 19 are deemed substandard, which is roughly two per cent.

Across Telford & Wrekin, eight of the 269 bridges in question are not up to standard, representing about three per cent.

In the Powys County Council region, 62 bridges have been revealed as not being suitable for the heaviest vehicles out of the 1,336 in the area.

This is five per cent of all the bridges.

If money was no object, the authorities revealed they would intend to return 29 of the bridges to full carrying capacity.

However, due to resource restrictions only 10 – five in Shropshire and five in Powys – are likely to have work done in the next five years.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation who put the freedom of information request in, said: “It’s the pothole backlog that normally hits the headlines but it is easy to forget all the other aspects of road maintenance that councils are involved in; from clearing ditches to cutting verges to maintaining bridges.

“In the face of growing traffic volumes and ageing infrastructure the danger is that without an adequate long-term funding settlement we will see more rather than fewer bridges with weight restrictions, with the backlog bill getting bigger all the time.”

The total cost of bringing the bridges up to a good, but not necessarily perfect condition, would reach £16 million in Powys and Telford & Wrekin. Shropshire Council did not provide a figure.

Nationally, the 3,203 substandard bridges represent more than four per cent of the 72,000 bridges to be found on the local road network.

The number of substandard bridges is 35 per cent greater than that estimated by the RAC Foundation to have been substandard two years earlier.

Liz Kirkham, chairman of the Adept Bridges Group, said: “A growing number of substandard and restricted bridges that are not adequately maintained affect journey times and for rural communities in particular have an economic impact, creating barriers to growth.”

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