More bridges vulnerable to floods

An increasing number of severe weather events in the UK is putting the road network under threat, with bridges particularly susceptible to large scale flooding, MPs have been told.

The Department for Transport recommends that local authorities spend around 20% to 30% of the money allocated to them for highways on bridges, but more stringent tests will now be needed to check for their resistence to ephemeral flood events.

The UK Roads Liaison Group has warned that thousands of bridges around the country will be vulnerable to the type of floods which devastated Cumbria last autumn.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee, the group's UK roads board chairman Matthew Lugg said bridge-strength assessment would now have to take account of the "increasing number of severe weather events" happening in the UK.

In its written submission, the group said: "There are thousands of bridges around the country that would be vulnerable to similar extreme weather events."

Exceptional rainfall last November led to severe flooding and widespread bridge and road damage in Cumbria. Pc Bill Barker was killed when Northside Bridge in Workington collapsed.

Michael Winter, chairman of the bridges group of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport, told MPs: "In hindsight we should have been more focused on the flood risk."

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