UK Bridges and Roads in a Spiral of Decline

UK infrastructure has thousands of bridges in need of repair which is having a negative impact on our road networks according to analysis by the RAC Foundation and ADEPT, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economics, Planning and Transportation. Findings show that an increased number of vehicles on UK roads, as well as an increase in the weight of these vehicles is putting more pressure on our road networks and bridges than ever before.

A recent survey shows that the backlog in maintenance for UK bridges is growing annually and this is creating great cause for concern amongst authorities. The number of substandard road bridges in Britain is 35% greater than that estimated two years earlier by the RAC. In a network of almost 14,000 bridges across 10 council areas, almost 10% of the bridges are now classified as substandard.

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Slough council, which is responsible for the maintenance of 36 bridges, has the highest proportion of substandard bridges, with 17 of these in dire need of maintenance and repair.

The main effect of the decline in adequate maintenance is that 3,203 UK bridges spanning more than 1.5 metres can no longer accommodate heavy vehicles such as 44-tonne lorries, which means they need to be directed along alternative routes. This, in turn, puts additional wear on the supporting road infrastructure, increasing the need for maintenance on these alternative routes, and compounding a general spiral of decline across the UK road network.

The Director of the RAC Foundation, Steve Gooding, is quoted as saying that without adequate long-term funding to address the ageing infrastructure, it is inevitable that more and more bridges will be given weight restrictions, and the maintenance backlog bill will continue to grow. This will affect the flow of traffic, and impact on commerce in a negative manner.

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While the correct level of funding is critical, at CCL we also believe that the right expertise is just as crucial. Each project is unique and requires a solution developed to meet very specific challenges. We also advocate that after repairs have been carried out, a bespoke programme of ongoing maintenance should be developed to help further prolong the service life of any given structure.

If you’re responsible for the repair and maintenance of any large structure, CCL’s specialist teams of engineers would be delighted to develop the right solution for you. To find out more about CCL’s range of services please click here to download our brochure.