COUNCIL bosses in Lancashire are pledging to spend government funds on repairing bridges across the county after a study by the RAC found there to be a severe maintenance backlog with the cost of bringing road bridges up to scratch rising by a third.

With 1,469 bridges, Lancashire is one of the biggest counties scrutinised in the study, and of those 1,469 bridges, five percent were rated as substandard.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "The five percent they have rated as substandard is relatively low compared with other councils, and down on seven percent in last year's report.

"We have an annual programme to inspect and maintain our bridges, and have recently been successful in bidding to the government for funding when repairs to our most important bridges are needed, including major repairs to Burnley's Centenary Way bridge which were carried out in 2015/16."

Data from the RAC Foundation found that some 3,177 bridges in the worst condition have been categorised as 'substandard', meaning they are unable to carry the heaviest vehicles, and it's been estimated that £6.7billion is needed to ensure all the structures are up to scratch.

While many bridges have been built to earlier design standards, others have deteriorated through age and use, and between them, local authorities say they want to bring 2,026 bridges back to full carrying capacity.

However, budget constraints mean only 343 will have necessary repairs carried out on them in the next five years.

The LCC spokesman added: "The RAC report refers to bridges over 1.5m in span that are not fit to carry the heaviest vehicles.

"Weight restrictions can be needed for historical reasons, as well as to manage any emerging maintenance issues and prevent the need for further restrictions before repairs can be carried out."

Martin Tett, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association, representing 370 councils in England and Wales, claimed the study 'underlines the chronic need for more investment in existing local roads'.

He said: "While the extra one-off £420million funding announced in the Budget will help, only long-term, consistent and fairer government investment can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads and bridges that is desperately needed."