Warwickshire County Council Bridge Maintenance is responsible for the routine inspection, assessment and upkeep of approximately 1,150 highway retaining structures.
There are a total of 60 structures with ‘listed’ status (Grade I-II*) out of which 18 share their status as ‘ancient monuments’. Due to their age, historic value and construction type these bridge structures are disproportionally expensive to maintain. Consultation and consent associated with such structures to plan maintenance on is complex and leads to lengthy lead-in times and are mandatory.
In recent years the volume of traffic on the highway network which includes both vehicles and pedestrians has increased in number and size. As a result of this, it has increased pollution, frequency of incidents/collision and loads crossing the highway structures. If such collisions and larger loads become more persistent, this could cause significant structural damage but also impact the local economy and social interaction, with capital funding moved from other critical repairs to fund the incident such as that seen on the repair to Bidford on Avon River Bridge in 2015.
Due to the annual inspection regime and monitoring arrangements set out by the bridge maintenance scheme for the council’s highway structures, it has become apparent some elements of Warwickshire’s historic bridge stock are in need of urgent attention, otherwise bridge closures and new and/or reduced weight restrictions may need to be imposed in the near future. Flood events and build-up of flood debris against such structures have been responsible for underwater defects such as scour holes around foundations. The significant age, increase in traffic, pollution and surface water, have been responsible for eroding masonry joints, softening stone and brickwork elevations and making parapet systems unstable. A significant volume of new replacement stone is urgently required.
As a result of the condition of such historic structures, the Historic bridge maintenance programme (HBMP) has been developed to have eight historical structures undergo critical maintenance over a three programme.
To fund this programme, a successful bid was made to the Department for Transport local highways maintenance challenge fund which secured £4.98m along with £1.32m from our capital investment fund.