Third of Suffolk’s bridges in severe or very poor condition, report reveals

A third of Suffolk's bridges are in a 'severe' or 'very poor' condition, a county council report sai

A third of Suffolk's bridges are in a 'severe' or 'very poor' condition, a county council report said. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nearly a third of all bridges in Suffolk could present a high risk to public safety it has been revealed, as latest figures showed that 33% were considered to be in ‘severe’ or ‘very poor’ condition.

An information bulletin prepared for last week’s county council scrutiny committee on latest available figures revealed that 33% were ‘very poor’ or ‘severe’, 27% were ‘poor’ and 40% were ‘very good’, ‘good’ or ‘fair’, based on a score measuring load bearing elements of bridges,

It meant that nearly 200 bridges were ‘severe’, with the council’s criteria stating that severe scores mean the majority of load-bearing elements were “unserviceable or close to it and are in dangerous condition” and some structures posed a “very high risk to public safety”.

John Clements, head of infrastructure management at Suffolk Highways, said: “The level of funding that’s been made available over the past decade has not been sufficient to maintain the overall condition of our structures, hence the gradual managed decline in condition that is evident within the report.

“Whilst there are a relatively large number of structures that are subject to increased inspection frequency due to decline in condition or strength, they are not currently considered to present a significant risk to the public.

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“There are currently no structural weight restrictions on Suffolk County Council owned structures on either A or B class roads, and the weight restrictions that have been implemented are not considered to be causing any significant issues to the public or businesses.”

He added that maintenance and funding was prioritised based on those most in need of repair.

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As of January this year, there were 116 structures where interim measures such as additional inspections and weight restrictions were in place.

The report said that there is a backlog of 46 structures of concern that do not have any interim measures in place, but were not considered to be high-risk.

It added: “Suffolk Highways recognises that existing levels of investment in highway structures is not sufficient to arrest deterioration.”

The highways team was unsuccessful in gaining Department for Transport funding for 2017/18, but is continuing to monitor further opportunities.

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