Bridge works benefit from grant

Bridge repairs will get under way across Northumberland with a £6.7million Government grant.

But a bid for a far bigger sum of £43million to improve rural roads was rejected.

The applications were made by Northumberland County Council to the Challenge Fund, which is designed to support one-off major infrastructure schemes that will improve life for residents and businesses.

The unsuccessful bid would have supported improvements to 160km of the county’s rural road network in north and west areas over the next three years.

The cash awarded will see 130 bridge masonry arches repaired across the county.

Northumberland has a higher than average proportion of masonry arch bridges, with an average age of more than 170 years. The work will prevent water damage, which will significantly improve the condition of the bridges and safeguard their long-term future.

The programme is expected to save more than £60million compared to long-term reconstruction costs.

It was one of only 28 projects nationally to receive funding.

A county council spokesman said: “This is fantastic news. Our ambitious proposals will help us to improve structures in the rural north and west areas in Northumberland, allowing them to be preserved.

“Bridges form a vital part of our infrastructure and by investing in some early intervention work we will be able to save more expensive problems in the future.

“I have to say that I am disappointed that our second bid for highway improvements was unsuccessful. This would have helped us to make real improvements to our more rural C and U roads, which play a vital role in connecting communities and industries in more remote areas.”