Bridges and structures

We are responsible for the management of highway bridges, culverts and retaining walls that are over, under or adjacent to the highway.

This includes rural footbridges on the public right of way network and often our older structures can be 'listed buildings' or even 'scheduled ancient monuments', for which formal consents are normally required when any works are undertaken.

Not all bridges and structures on the highway are the responsibility of the Local Authority. Other bodies that own bridges and structures include:

  • Network Rail: structures associated with the ‘live’ railway
  • National Highways: A5, A14, A45 (M1 Junction 15 to A14 Thrapston), A43 (M1 Junction 15a to M42), M45, M1
  • Canal and River Trust: Grand Union Canal, Northampton Arm and Welford Arm
  • Highways England Historical Railways Estate: Responsible for the historical railways estate (formerly known as the Burdensome Estate) including legacy bridges, abutments, tunnels, cuttings, viaducts and similar properties associated with closed railway lines, and sales
  • Private non-public bodies

As the highway authority we have a duty of care to ensure that all structures on our network are safe and fit for purpose.

Inspection and maintenance

We undertake annual inspections of structures that we are responsible for including special inspections if needed (e.g. collision damage).

We carry out regular maintenance and bridge replacements, along with strengthening works to keep our bridges and structures safe and operational, with a minimum of disruption. Work is carried with sympathy to the bridge environment.

All works are scheduled for the current or future financial year. Urgent repair and maintenance work is prioritised on risk and budgets available.

Weight restrictions

We review the capacity of our structures and place weight restrictions on those that are substandard for current highway usage.

Weight restrictions are only introduced when strictly necessary.

Collision damage

Collision damage often causes damage to parapets and can be dangerous. Many older bridges have substandard road widths and alignments, both horizontally and vertically. Excessive vehicle speed can be a factor in parapets being struck.

When we can't repair damage straight away, we can use traffic management, temporary concrete safety barriers and fencing to prevent further collisions. Road closures are used as a last resort, as we recognise the disruption these cause.

If we identify a pattern of frequent damage, then we will review how this could be stopped in the future.

Last updated 08 April 2022