Council chiefs warn of ‘chronic need’ for bridge repair funding

03/03/2020
William Eichler

Local authority leaders have said there is a ‘chronic need’ for investment in local roads in response to a report on the number of substandard road bridges in Great Britain.

An analysis by the RAC Foundation found that the number of substandard road bridges managed by councils across the country has fallen slightly over the past year.

Local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales have identified 3,061 bridges – defined as structures over 1.5 m in span – as being substandard. This was 4.2% down on the 3,194 figure twelve months earlier.

The 3,061 substandard bridges make up 4.3% of the total of 71,505 bridges the 203 councils manage between them.

The Foundation warned however that the recent flooding risks reversing this trend.

Its analysis is based on freedom of information responses from 203 of the 210 local highways authorities in Britain.

It estimates that the cost to bring all the substandard bridges back up to perfect condition is £1.12bn and the one-time cost to clear the maintenance backlog on all 71,505 bridges is an estimated £5.55bn.

Both of these figures are down from last year’s estimates of £1.17bn and £6.5bn respectively.

Councils told the Foundation they would ideally want to bring 2,084 (68%) of the 3,061 substandard bridges back up to full carrying capacity.

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

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘The condition of the bridges that carry our roads is a canary-in-a-coal-mine indicator for the health of the highway network as a whole.

‘While our survey shows a marginal year-on-year improvement, it still reveals that while the number of structures highway authorities expect to bring up to standard in the next five years is in the hundreds, the number they’d like to restore to manage traffic demand is in the thousands.’

Cllr David Renard, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said that there was a ‘chronic need for more investment in local roads'.

‘The backlog of repairs on our existing highways infrastructure as a whole currently stands at over £9bn and it would take 10 years to fix,’ Cllr Renard.

‘Flooding events in recent weeks have shown how vital bridges are in linking together communities and enabling shoppers and local traders to go about their business and they are of critical importance to our national economy.’

‘Long-term investment would allow councils to ensure that our roads and highways infrastructure continue to connect our businesses and communities,’ he continued.

‘We are calling on the Government to use the Budget to reinvest the equivalent of 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local roads maintenance, which would generate £1bn a year for councils to spend on making our roads and bridges more resilient to extremes of weather and day-to-day use.’

This article first appeared localgov.co.uk.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Inside

  • The £2.5bn Surrey partnering contract
  • The politics of protest
  • Stoke's roadworks league
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Environmental Health/Environmental Protection Officer - Noise

£41,607.00 - £44,598.00
This post attracts an essential car user allowance. The post holder is able to take part in the Council's flexible working scheme. Tower Hamlets, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Tower Hamlets London Borough Council

Engineering Manager

£46,756 - £54,238 per annum
The Engineering Team is responsible for the management of the Council’s fleet of vehicles (circa 330), ensuring... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Street Care Operative

Grade 3 - Starting at £18,657 per annum, rising to £19,905
The Council’s Street Care service is responsible for the cleanliness of the whole borough and undertake a range of street cleaning and street care ... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Neighbourhood Highways Officers (Western Team)

£28,672 - £32,234 per annum
We are seeking to recruit two Neighbourhood Highways Officers, to be based in Okehampton. Devon
Recruiter: Devon County Council

Demand Responsive Transport Officer

£32,234 pa - £34,728 pa
The role sits within the Integrated Transport Unit. Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Hertfordshire County Council

Head of Highways

£68,640 - £76,148 per annum
We are absolutely delighted to announce that Cheshire West and Chester are looking for a Head of Highways. Chester, Cheshire
Recruiter: Cheshire West & Chester

Highways Team Leader

£25,481 - £25,991
Are you a hard-working and experienced Highways operative, looking for the next step in your career? Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

ICT Field Engineer

£29,577 - £30,451
This is an exciting and challenging time to join us, as throughout the organisation we are... Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Senior Structural Engineer

£45,768 per annum
The role involves managing the Structural Engineering Team and the budget for structural engineering consultants.   Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Lambeth Council

Street Works Manager

£45,594
Are you a self-starter who takes ownership of problems and takes pride in finding solutions? Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Lambeth Council

Highways Network Officer

£31.346 - £32.234
Are you looking to progress your career within the Highways and Transport sector? Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Bridge Engineer

£35,745.00 to £36,922.00
We are currently seeking to recruit an experienced and enthusiastic Bridge Engineer. Kendal, Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Highways Team Leader

£25 481 - £25 991
Are you a hard-working and experienced Highways operative looking for the next step in your career? Workington, Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Inventory Technician

£19,312 - £20,493 per annum
We have an exciting opportunity available within the Highways Service at Sandwell Council.  Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Shopmobility & Public Convenience Attendant

Grade 3 - Starting at £18,657 per annum, pro rata rising to £19,905
We are looking for an individual who works well in a small team to deliver an excellent level of service at our flagship Market Road Public Conveni... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Waste Collection Operative - HGV Driver/Loader

Grade 5 - Starting at £23,403 per annum, rising to £25,791
If you enjoy working outside and would like to make a positive contribution to the collection of both waste and recycling in the Borough, this coul... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Director of Climate Emergency & Behavioural Change

£95,000 to £109,000 per annum
At Waltham Forest we are developing an ambitious, transformative agenda to tackle the global Climate Emergency. Waltham Forest, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Waltham Forest

Street Works and Permitting Manager

£44,863 - £51,817
Are you a qualified highways engineer who wants to make a difference to the efficient running of the highway network within Lincolnshire? Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Highways Officer

£27,741 to £30,451
Are you someone who is looking to progress their career with one of the most highly regarded highway services in the country? Brompton, Northallerton
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Officer

£27,741 to £30,451
Are you someone who is looking to progress their career with one of the most highly regarded highway services in the country? Boroughbridge, York
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video