Millions needed to restore these 14 substandard bridges across Northamptonshire

‘Temporary’ weight restrictions added on safety grounds set to stay indefinitely on six crossings

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 11:28 am

Tens of millions of pounds must be spent to restore the backlog of substandard Northamptonshire bridges, new figures show.

Out of 1,374 bridges in the area, Northamptonshire councils identified 14 that were unable to carry the heaviest vehicles regularly in 2021, according to RAC Foundation data.

The council estimates it would cost £35 million to restore them to full capacity — although work on five is already done and another is due this summer and one by 2025.

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Historic Trafford bridge near Chipping Warden is due for repairs later this year — but six others in the county will not be so lucky

These are at Stanion, Corby, Shutlanger, Cappenham, Croughton West and Woodford Halse.

Engineers are also due to carry out improvements on the Grade Two listed Trafford bridge near Chipping Warden during 2022 and at White Mills Marina, near Earls Barton in the next two-to-three years.

But six more bridges have had weight restrictions added on safety grounds and there are currently no plans to bring them back up to standard.

These are two at Thorpe Waterville, Weedon railway sidings, High House Canal at Nether Heyford, Cotterstock and at Marston St Lawrence.

The list also includes a pedestrian subway under Sanders Road, Wellingborough, which will be “monitored” — but not the Nene crossing at Billing, which will close for four weeks later this summer after being damaged in a vehicle strike back in December.

The RAC Foundation says the threat of more severe weather due to climate change could lead to danger and is urging authorities to address unsuitable bridges.

Nationally, local councils estimate £4.2 billion is needed for bridge restoration after reporting 17 complete and 37 partial collapses during 2021.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We are providing more than £5 billion of investment over 2020 to 2025 to local highways authorities, including for bridge repair and maintenance.

“It is up to councils to decide how they use funding based on their needs and priorities.”

The RAC Foundation analysis is based on data from 196 councils in response to freedom of information requests. Of those with more than 100 bridges, Oxfordshire has the greatest proportion deemed substandard, 28 percent.

Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, said: "Even failure of the shortest structure could mean a five-foot long gap in the carriageway causing disruption and possibly a long diversion.”

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