Over 3,200 UK Bridges ‘Below Standard’

More than 3,200 bridges in England, Scotland and Wales were below the required standard at the end of last year, a report has recently revealed.

More than 3,200 bridges in England, Scotland and Wales were below the required standard at the end of last year, a report has recently revealed.

According to the latest findings from RAC Foundation, 3,211 structures were substandard, rising by 3.4 per cent from 3,105 in 2020.

The latest figure is also five per cent higher than the 3,055 bridges found to be below parr and unable to carry the heaviest types of vehicles in 2019.

Nearly 200 councils across England, Scotland and Wales provided data for analysis after the RAC Foundation issued FOI requests in November 2021.

Of the substandard structures recorded, 17 bridges had fully collapsed in 2021 while another 37 had partially fallen down.

Director of the organisation Steve Gooding said: “Even the failure of the shortest of these structures could mean a five-foot long gap in the carriageway, and even on relatively minor roads that can still be a headache, causing disruption and possibly a long diversion.”

He noted conditions could worsen in the future as a result of climate change and more severe weather incidences, such as heavy winds, storms and flooding.

This “must be a worry for the overall resilience of our highway network”, Mr Gooding added.

The National Bridges Group of ADEPT (the Association of Directors of Environment, Economics, Planning and Transportation) also helped carry out the survey, which revealed Devon had the highest number of substandard bridges last year at 229. This was followed by Oxford at 222 and Essex at 167.

Chair of the ADEPT National Bridges Group Kevin Denith noted that regular assessments, maintenance, and competent bridge inspectors are needed to make sure they can still function.

He stated there is currently a shortage of qualified people to carry out these roles, which is “putting a huge strain on the bridges fraternity who are struggling to recruit”.

Mr Denith called for more technicians and engineers to consider roles in this area, otherwise, he said: “We are at risk of seeing a higher number of bridge collapses than those identified in this year’s RAC Foundation survey.”

When it came to the proportion of substandard bridges, Hammersmith and Fulham was found to be the worse, with half its structures below standard. Hartlepool had a figure of 46 per cent, while more than a third (36 per cent) of Kingston Upon Thames’ bridges were reported as being below standard.

In response to the findings, Glasgow Council said it would cost £53 million to repair the nine bridges identified as unable to carry the heaviest types of vehicles, such as lorries of up to 44 tonnes.

According to Glasgow World, the local authority plans to bring three of these bridges to full working order within the next five years.

It would want to return eight bridges to full carrying capacity, but it is constrained by tight budgets.

For more information about fixing bridge expansion joints to make sure structures remain strong enough for the vehicles that travel over them, get in touch with us today.