More Than 4,000 Major Road Bridges In ‘Poor’ Condition

Fri 4th Dec 2020

New data published this week has revealed that close to half of the 9,000 bridges on England’s motorway and major road network are in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor condition.

The M6 has the most bridges in poor condition, with a total of 141 bridges. Poor means that bridges could have severe defects or damage that could significantly affect their capacity, or require measures such as vehicle weight restrictions, or complete closure.

One such bridge which has faced complete closure is London’s Hammersmith Bridge, which has been closed since April 2019 due to structural defects. The data was only released to The Times by Highways England following a Freedom of Information request, which was forced by the Information Commissioner.

Highways England were reluctant to release the information and said: All our structures are safe and regularly inspected. A rating of “poor” or “very poor” does not mean that a structure is unsafe; it is simply a way of recording a visual inspection, such as the condition of the paint, to allow us to consider the future maintenance requirements.

“We carry out more than 10,000 inspections a year looking at a range of measures from the condition of the paint through to the integrity of the materials. Considering all these assessments together helps us assess the overall maintenance needs and reduces the likelihood of emergency repairs, meaning the majority of our maintenance can be planned to minimise disruption.”

Highways England will invest 1.5bn in structural maintenance over the next five years and point out that the overall condition of its structures has shown improvements over the last five years.