More than 2,300 road bridges in the UK have been found inadequate and not fit to carry heavy vehicles.
An investigation by the RAC Foundation examined 71,000 local road bridges in Britain and found major problems in three per cent of them. The RAC is now urging the government to provide more funding for maintenance.
The charity said the inadequate bridges were either built to earlier standards or have deteriorated due to age and poor maintenance.
The charity has estimated it would cost approximately £328m to refurbish all inadequate bridges into top condition, the equivalent of £138,000 each.
"Highways maintenance doesn't start and end with filling in potholes, though that in itself is a big enough job,” said RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding. "Another key responsibility for councils is to keep their highways bridges up to scratch."
Gooding cited London’s Hammersmith Flyover, which had to be closed four years ago due to rapid deterioration, as an example of how poor maintenance of bridge infrastructure can affect life in an area.
“It caused major congestion and was a graphic illustration of what could happen if our national infrastructure is not adequately maintained,” Gooding said.
The research was carried out using responses to freedom of information requests from 193 of all 207 highways authorities in Britain and a survey of 50 councils carried out by the National Bridges Group of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (Adept).
Adept Bridges Group chair Liz Kirkham commented: "The Adept Bridges Group works hard to support local authority bridge managers in maintaining these vital links in the highways network and is concerned that further reductions in available funding will only make their job more difficult."