Damning new figures have revealed that Aberdeenshire has one of the highest numbers of substandard bridges in the UK.
The analysis also reveals that the maintenance backlog for council-owned road bridges in Britain has increased by a third in 12 months.
Five per cent of bridges in Aberdeenshire were deemed as not meeting current standards, making it the tenth in the list of worst offenders for the highest number of substandard bridges of councils across the UK. Aberdeenshire, which has the second largest road network in Scotland, is the only Scottish local authority to feature among the ten councils with the most below-standard bridges.
An estimated £6.7 billion is needed to bring all structures up to scratch, according to analysis of 2017/18 data by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation.
This is up from £5 billion a year earlier.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said establishing the condition of highway bridges is a “litmus test for the condition of our road network” and described the findings as “worrying”.
Some 3,177 bridges in the worst condition have been categorised as “substandard”, meaning they are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles.
Many are subject to weight restrictions while others are under programmes of increased monitoring or even managed decline.
The RAC Foundation reported in January last year that there were 412 “substandard” bridges in Scotland, with only 53 planned to be returned to full load capacity by 2023.
A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “We have a very large number of bridges, many of which are historical and were never intended or designed to carry the extremes of modern traffic.
“Many are also very remote and are not expected to cope with the same demands placed on urban bridges. We have a rolling programme of bridge maintenance and repair on a prioritised basis, even replacement when necessary.
“This is clearly balanced against the demands on budgets made by our 3,300 mile roads network.”