Action call over 'weak' road bridges

Sunderland has seven road bridges that are deemed to be ‘substandard’, new figures suggest.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 2:17 pm
Sunderland has seven 'weak' bridges

According to analysis by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, seven of the city’s 182 council-managed bridges were found to be unable to support the heaviest loads – such as lorries of up to 44 tonnes.

The bridges are Penshaw Bridge, which carries the C503 Station Road over the River Wear between Fatfield and Penshaw; Low Barmson access bridge, which carries an access road over the A1231 near Nissan, and five structures which give access to or form part of the roof of the Bridges Shopping Centre.

A Sunderland City Council spokeswoman said: “These are bridges with weight restrictions, which does not mean that the condition of the bridges has deteriorated. They are routinely inspected, assessed and maintained as part of the council’s regular asset management procedures.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Nationally, local authorities said they would ideally get 2,256 bridges back to full carrying capacity, but only expect to bring 392 up to scratch over the next five years but don’t have the cash.

The research was carried out in partnership with Adept, a group representing local authority bosses responsible for transport and other sectors.

Kevin Dentith, chairman of ADEPT’s national bridges group, said: “Whilst the number of substandard bridges may appear worrying it does not mean a bridge is unsafe.”

He added that councils would only be able to make such bridges fully functional again if they receive more government funding.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are providing over £1.1bn in funding to local authorities this year to ensure infrastructure – including bridges – are maintained effectively.”