Preston bridge in a worse condition than first thought

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

An inspection report of a well-known Preston bridge has found the structure is in a worse condition than first feared.

The Old Tram Bridge, off Avenham Park, was closed to the public in February after its condition was found to have deteriorated significantly since its last major inspection.
A Principal Bridge Inspection Report, compiled by bridge engineers at Lancashire County Council and peer reviewed by Jacobs UK Ltd, has now been published which details more than 200 defects.
Overall the inspectors found the bridge was 'in very poor condition' and has 'a number of critical defects' affecting the safety of users.
The news comes as a major setback to the county council and Preston City Council, who are working together to find a solution for the future of the bridge.
The report's findings include:
• 50 of the 81 pre-stressed bridge beams have extensive horizontal surface cracking, indicating that they could fail suddenly without warning;
• Connections between reinforced concrete beams appear to have failed, meaning they no longer support each other. There is a risk they could fail suddenly or roll off their supports;
• Many of the beams are not seated correctly on supporting bridge piers, with some areas of the piers breaking off, reducing the supporting area even further. Large cracks have appeared in some piers. There is a significant risk that support to one or more beams will be completely lost and a beam will collapse;
• The 1930's concrete piers and struts are in very poor condition, with many areas of exposed and badly rusted reinforcement. Some struts have fallen off, causing damage to the piers. There is potential for more concrete to fall, posing a significant risk to anyone below;
• The parapets are badly corroded, particularly the supporting posts, and there is a risk they could collapse if there were crowds on the bridge leaning on them.

County Cllr Keith Iddon, deputy leader of the county council and cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: "Naturally I am very disappointed that this report has shown that the bridge is in a worse condition than was first thought.
"For public safety the bridge was closed in February as soon as the inspection discovered there was a significant safety risk.
"Regular inspections, in line with national standards, have been carried out for this bridge, but the deterioration over the past six years has been marked.
"Both the county council and Preston City Council will now look at what options are available to us."
Councillor Robert Boswell, Cabinet member for environment at Preston City Council, added,
"The old tram bridge is a popular leisure and commuting route into the city.
"However the concrete bridge deck is now more than 50-years-old and the supports are over 80-years-old. Unfortunately its condition has steadily deteriorated in line with its type of construction and age.
"Due to the serious findings in the structural report, we'll now be working with Lancashire County Council to decide what our next steps will be."
Lancashire County Council inspects bridges which are used by the public, irrespective of ownership of the structure, on grounds of public safety if the structure owner does not have an inspection regime in place.
In line with guidelines a detailed inspection, called a Principal Bridge Inspection, is carried out every six years, with general inspections carried out every two years. However following the previous Principal Bridge Inspection we have been conducting a general inspection every year.
To view the full report visit

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