At least two humpback bridges are being struck by cars each week, leaving British Waterways to foot a £2.5 million annual repair bill, it has been revealed.
As most motorists drive away without reporting the accident, the cost of fixing the bridges is diverting funds from maintaining British Waterways 2,000 miles of canals and rivers. The firm look after 1,800 bridges, with some as old as 200 years.
Nigel Crowe, head of heritage at British Waterways, said: "Whenever you go over a humpback bridge in Britain you are likely to be going over a canal. Often officially listed as being of special architectural or historical significance, these bridges have to be painstakingly repaired at considerable cost.
"We're working with the County Surveyors' Society and local authorities to improve signage and road markings, but, frankly, if motorists just slowed down a bit and took more care and attention then we'd not be defacing our heritage in this way on a day-to-day basis."
Damaged sections of the bridge are replaced with lime mortar and locally sourced stone or brick to restore them to the style in which they were built.
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