Suffolk has one of highest number of substandard bridges in Britain

Weak Bridge sign in Bury St Edmunds.

Weak Bridge sign in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk has one of the higest numbers of substandard bridges in the country it has been revealed today.

A study by the RAC Foundation has found that 3,203 council-maintained road bridges across Britain are not up to scratch and not fit to support the heaviest lorries which can weigh up to 44 tonnes.

Suffolk is one of 10 councils in Britain with the highest number of such bridges at 121 in sixth.

Cambridgeshire also features in the top ten with 64 unsuitable bridges.

Norfolk compared fairly better but out of 199 councils that took part they still came 22nd on the list with 49 unsuitable bridges.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: 'We are aware of these reports and have produced our own reports at scrutiny committee. We acknowledge that further work is needed and a recovery programme has been developed.'

Nationwide if funds were available then councils would want to bring 2,110 of the bridges back up to standard, but budget restrictions mean only 416 are expected to be restored within the next five years, according to the report.

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The cost of clearing the backlog of work on all bridges is estimated to be £3.9 billion, but councils are currently spending just an eighth of that per year maintaining their bridge stock.

Many of the 199 councils who provided data for the study said funding and skill shortages were the biggest challenges they expected to face in maintaining the structures over the next decade.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: 'It's the pothole backlog that normally hits the headlines but it is easy to forget all the other aspects of road maintenance that councils are involved in; from clearing ditches to cutting verges to maintaining bridges.

'In the face of growing traffic volumes and ageing infrastructure the danger is that without an adequate long-term funding settlement we will see more rather than fewer bridges with weight restrictions, with the backlog bill getting bigger all the time.'

The survey was carried out in partnership with the national bridges group of voluntary organisation the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport.

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