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.

Highways jobs

Senior Engineer (Development Control)

Wrexham County Borough Council
£36,876 - £39,782 per annum
We are looking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified candidate to work within the Contracts and Engineering team Wrexham (Wrecsam)
Recruiter: Wrexham County Borough Council

Strategic Director Growth and Regeneration

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director Environment and Climate Change

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Funeral Operative (As and When)

Brent Council
£24,462 - £26,274 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
The person will not need previous experience in funeral services as full training will be given but experience would be an advantage. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Senior Engineer – Transport Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£38,800 - £52,600
This is an exciting opportunity to improve road safety and create healthy streets in a busy and dynamic central London borough. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Environmental Health Officer / Health and Safety Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum plus performance related pay
The ideal candidate will have a detailed knowledge/understanding of Health and Safety legislation.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
The Head of Operations is a key leader in the Senior Management Team. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recruiter: Rossendale Borough Council

Commercial Officer

Rossendale Borough Council
£25,801 - £29,636
We are keen to improve our recycling levels, tackle the climate change agenda and take pride in our open spaces. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recruiter: Rossendale Borough Council

Principal Electrical Asset Officer

Birmingham City Council
£34,788-£42,683
The role requires the post holder to be a key technical specialist for the Authority’s Highways Electrical Asset Management function, providing... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Transport Planning Officer 

Plymouth City Council
£32,878 - £42,683
This is a full time position (37 hours per week) with flexible working arrangements. Plymouth, Devon
Recruiter: Plymouth City Council

Highways & Drainage Team Manager

Newport City Council
£37,849 - £40,760
You will be skilled at analysing multiple sources of information, making excellent decisions, and driving difficult situations towards a... Newport (Casnewydd)
Recruiter: Newport City Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Housing Lead)

Mole Valley District Council
£37,821 - £42,329
An exciting opportunity for a Senior Environmental Health Officer to join our forward thinking Environmental Health Partnership Oxted, Surrey
Recruiter: Mole Valley District Council

Street Works Compliance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative (Street Lighting) Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice x 3

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Safety, Health & Environment Technician Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director, Environment & Regeneration

Brent Council
Circa £155,000
Brent is the Borough of Cultures - the most diverse in London - and as a Council we believe in delivering for our communities. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Street Cleansing Operative x6

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,466.00 - £20,835.00
This role will involve working as an individual as well as part of a team, litter pick the streets in the local area, empty the litter bins. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 3

Northumberland County Council
£27,905 - £31,371
Assistant Engineer (Structures) - Band 7 (SCP 24-28) The Council Northumberland County Council operates a huge range of services across one of the ... County Hall, Morpeth
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Inside:

  • Exclusive: Self-assessment results
  • Keeping up momentum on major roads
  • The Lifelines Resilience approach
View the latest issue

Latest Video