More than a quarter of all road bridges maintained by Cork Co Council are classified as having at least “significant damage” and needing to be repaired within 12 months.
An analysis of inspection reports by civil engineers shows that 382 out of 1,455 bridges in the county were found to be in a sub-standard condition.
Cork County Council confirmed yesterday that 30 out of 32 bridges categorised as being in “danger of total failure” had been repaired or replaced since publication of the reports. The other two structure are located on disused roads.
A council spokesperson said the cost of repairs to the 30 bridges had been almost €1.3m.
A total of 79 bridges were reported to be suffering “critical” damage which required repairs “at once” while another 271 bridges were considered in better condition but still experiencing “significant damage” with the recommendation that they be repaired “within the next financial year”.
Similar reports on 50 bridges within the area controlled by Cork City Council show nine crossings had also recorded significant damage.
The reports present a snapshot of the condition of bridges in Cork city and county.
While repairs may have been carried out on some bridges with a high-risk rating since publication of the reports, the condition of others will have deteriorated.
Road closures, repair work, load restrictions and further assessments were carried out on the most high-risk bridges once inspection reports were filed, according to council officials.
A spokesman for Cork County Council said there was no question of traffic being allowed to cross any bridge that was deemed to be unsafe.
“A bridge will be closed if there is any danger to the public,” he said.
All bridges are subject to a standardised inspection scheme known as Eirspan which rates their overall condition as well as 14 component parts on a scale of 0 to 5.
A ‘0’ rating signified no damage to the bridge, while a ‘5’ rating indicates it is in danger of total collapse and poses a risk to traffic.
With 32 bridges, Cork had the highest number of category ‘5’ bridges of any county, followed by Roscommon (13), Leitrim (8) and Limerick (7).
Nationwide more than 1,600 bridges on both national and non-national roads from over 9,500 bridges subject to an inspection had a ranking of ‘3’ — which signals “significant damage” or higher.
A total of 78 bridges had the highest risk classification with more than 300 others suffering critical damage.
Kerry had the second highest level of sub-standard bridges after Cork with 125 bridges suffering at least “significant damage” followed by Clare (89) and Tipperary (84).
Cork County Council has estimated that it would cost more than €10.8m to carry out repairs to the 382 bridges identified as experiencing some structural faults.
However, just €7.7m was provided by the government for the maintenance of 175 bridges on non-national roads across the entire country last year.
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