Action call over 'weak' road bridges

Northumberland has over 100 'weak' bridgesNorthumberland has over 100 'weak' bridges
Northumberland has over 100 'weak' bridges
Northumberland has one of the highest number of road bridges deemed to be ‘substandard’ in the country, new figures suggest.

According to analysis by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, 101 of the county’s 978 council-managed bridges were found to be unable to support the heaviest loads – such as lorries of up to 44 tonnes.

That is the seventh-highest number in 199 local authority areas.

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The council said it would ideally return 82 to full capacity – but due to budget restrictions only expects to do so with 20 of them over the next five years.

Until then they will remain subject to restrictions on the weight of vehicles that can use them.

The RAC Foundation says these bridges are among more than 3,100 council-owned bridges nationally which cannot carry the heaviest vehicles.

The research was carried out in partnership with Adept, a group representing local authority bosses responsible for transport and other sectors.

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Kevin Dentith, chairman of ADEPT’s national bridges group, said: “Whilst the number of substandard bridges may appear worrying it does not mean a bridge is unsafe.”

He added that councils would only be able to make such bridges fully functional again if they receive more government funding.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “This is storing up trouble for the future as our weather gets more extreme and traffic volumes rise again after the Covid-19 restrictions.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are providing over £1.1bn in funding to local authorities in England for highways maintenance this year to ensure infrastructure – including bridges – are maintained effectively.”