Millions of pounds needed to restore substandard bridges in Doncaster

Millions of pounds must be spent to restore the backlog of substandard bridges in Doncaster to a good condition.

By Stephanie Bateman
Monday, 28th March 2022, 2:13 pm

The RAC Foundation said the threat of more severe weather due to climate change could lead to dangerous collapses on Great Britain's highways and has urged councils to address unsuitable bridges.

Out of 268 bridges in the area, Doncaster council identified three which were unable to carry the heaviest vehicles regularly using highways – including lorries up to 44 tonnes – in 2021, figures from the RAC Foundation show.

The council estimates it would cost £15 million to restore them to a good condition.

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Many bridges are substandard

Nationally, local councils estimate they need to spend £4.2 billion on bridge restoration.

The national bridges group of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport has urged the Department for Transport to invest in repairing bridges or face the risk of seeing more collapses than identified in the RAC Foundation figures.

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Councils reported 17 complete bridge collapses in 2021 – 12 in Dorset and five in Denbighshire.

A further 37 partially collapsed.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "We are providing more than £5 billion of investment over 2020 to 2025 for highways maintenance to local highways authorities across England, including for the repair and maintenance of bridges.

"It is up to councils to decide how they use highways maintenance funding, based on their own needs and priorities."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, 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.”

The figures also show Doncaster council does not intend to return any of its bridges to full carrying capacity in the next five years.

The council said three bridges would ideally be brought up to scratch over this period if it did not face budget limitations.

Councils across Great Britain said they would fix 2,374 (74 per cent) bridges without budget restrictions, but just 379 (12 per cent) are anticipated to be restored within the next half a decade.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.