UPDATE: Ten West Sussex bridges ‘not fit to carry’ all vehicles

The council have been asked to confirm which ten bridges in Sussex are substandard

The council have been asked to confirm which ten bridges in Sussex are substandard

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Ten road bridges in West Sussex are ‘not fit to carry’ all vehicles, according to a study, but West Sussex County Council has been unable to name them.

More than 3,200 council-maintained road bridges in Great Britain are ‘substandard’, an RAC Foundation survey has found.

These bridges are not fit to carry the heaviest vehicles now seen on our roads, including lorries of up to 44 tonnes, a spokesperson for the RAC Foundation said.

Analysis of data from 199 of the 207 local highway authorities in England, Scotland and Wales found that 3,203 structures over 1.5 metres in span were not up to the task.

Many of these bridges have weight restrictions. Others will be under programmes of increased monitoring or even managed decline, the spokesperson added.

West Sussex County Council performs well compared to other councils, with ten out of a total of 711 bridges found to be substandard.

Devon County Council had the highest total, with 249 ‘substandard’ bridges.

According to the data, the estimated cost of fixing the ten failing West Sussex bridges would be £6.5million.

The RAC Foundation spokesperson said that councils had not provided researchers with the exact names and locations of substandard bridges.

The 3,203 bridges represent 4.4 per cent of the roughly 72,000 bridges found on the local road network.

The number of substandard bridges is 35 per cent greater than that estimated by the RAC Foundation to have been substandard two years earlier.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, 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.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman was unable to name the ten substandard bridges at time of going to press due to system problems, but said: “No bridge under our control is a threat to public safety.

“Bridges that have been assessed to have insufficient strength to carry 44 tonnes are managed under national law (weight restricted bridges),” they added.

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