Britain’s bridges are sorely in need of maintenance, with the overall cost of repair hitting £6.7 billion. There are approximately 72,000 council-managed bridges in the UK, for which the one-off cost to clear the maintenance backlog has increased by a third.
Bridges might seem an odd subject to approach, but the collapse of the iconic Packard Plant structure in America has brought this issue into focus.
The £6.7 billion figure for 2017-2018 compares with the 2016-2017 figure of £5 billion. This comes from RAC Foundation analysis of the 2017-2018 financial year.
The study, for which data was provided by a total of 200 out of 207 councils, also found that 3,177 bridges (4.4 percent) are classed as being in ‘sub-standard’ condition. This means they are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles currently on the road.
Where is worst for bridge maintenance in Britain?
The worst offending councils when it comes to the number of sub-standard bridges are Lewisham, and Hammersmith and Fulham – at 53 and 50 percent respectively. That’s 18 out of 34 in Lewisham, and two out of four in Hammersmith and Fulham. We do hope that particularly large and famous bridge in Hammersmith isn’t one of the sub-standard examples…
The next worst offenders are Bristol (37 percent), Islington (29 percent) and Southend-on-Sea (27 percent). At the very least, one in five bridges in the jurisdictions of the 10 worst-offending councils are sub-standard.
Devon (244), Essex (167), Somerset (160), Cornwall (140) and Suffolk (140) are the five council jurisdictions with the most sub-standard bridges.
Unable to bridge the gap
Councils say they want to get 2,026 of the 3,177 sub-standard bridges back up to full carrying capacity. That’s 64 percent of the current number.
However, with budget restrictions, only 343 of those are expected to have the necessary work done within the next five years.