BARNSLEY has a number of ‘substandard bridges’ which are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles on the town’s roads, new figures have revealed.

Figures from the RAC Foundation show that of the 236 bridges in Barnsley, three were substandard last year.

Substandard means bridges are either too weak to carry 40-tonne vehicles or there is a weight restriction for environmental reasons such as a narrow bridge or narrow approach roads.

Across Great Britain, councils said 3,090 bridges were substandard accounting for 4.3 per cent of the total 71,925 bridges.

It was down slightly from 3,211 substandard bridges reported the year before.

The estimated one-time cost to clear the maintenance backlog on bridges across the nations was £5.9bn.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures reveal the challenge local authorities are wrestling with to protect critical road infrastructure.

“The numbers illustrate how important it is for significant sums of money to be spent tackling at least the higher priority work.

“Whether it is potholes or bridges there is only so long that councils can continue to patch things up before bigger cracks literally start to appear in the road network.”

Barnsley Council said it would ideally restore all three bridges to full capacity, but only foresees one returning to good condition in the next five years.

Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, told the Chronicle: “We’re committed to investing in our highway network, including our bridges and structures, to keep people moving safely around our borough.

“I want to reassure residents that ‘substandard’, in this context, doesn’t mean unsafe.

“Some of our bridges were built 100 years ago, meaning they could not have been constructed for modern vehicle loads.

“In our borough, aside from three bridges that have weight limits imposed, our structures can support the heaviest vehicles on our roads.”