UK has more than 3,000 'substandard' road bridges

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Barden Bridge across the River Wharfe in Yorkshire Dales UK

Analysis shows 3,061 road bridges cannot carry the heaviest vehicles on our roads.

More than 3,000 road bridges in the UK are “substandard”, according to new analysis carried out by the RAC Foundation. The news comes after weeks of inclement weather caused widespread flooding, and the government has revealed a GBP93 million fund to fix bridges and roads up and down the country.

The data published by the RAC Foundation showed 3,061 road bridges in Great Britain are deemed “substandard”, meaning they cannot cope with the heaviest vehicles on the road. And in total, the organisation says the cost of bringing those bridges up to scratch stands at GBP1.12 billion.

Fixing all 71,505 council-managed bridges, meanwhile, would cost GBP5.55 billion.

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Although those figures, which were revealed through Freedom of Information requests, are lower than they were 12 months ago, the RAC Foundation says recent weather has put progress at “risk of reversal”.

The organisation claims bridges will have taken a “pounding” from the recent flooding and the debris carried along by the current. At the same time, the foundation says many of the existing substandard bridges are subject to weight restrictions, while others will be under programmes of increased monitoring or even managed decline.

The RAC Foundation says councils would “ideally” want to bring 2,084 (68 percent) of the 3,061 substandard bridges back up to full carrying capacity.

However, budget restrictions mean they anticipate only 359 of these will have the necessary work carried out on them within the next five years.

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Road arch over Norfolk Broads river

Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures showed just how much investment is needed in our road networks.

Norsworthy Bridge over the River Meavy. Burrator, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England

Meanwhile Councillor David Renard, the transport spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils, said the findings highlighted the need for investment from central government.

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