Flaws in Highways England taking over CART bridges

Published: Wednesday, 22 January 2020

THERE are a number of major flaws to the suggestion to transfer ownership (and therefore, responsibility for maintenance and repair) to the Highways Agency (which is now called Highways England), writes Bill Ridgeway.

Be very reluctant

§ It would not be possible to transfer ownership of bridges to Highways England without the willingness of Highways England to accept ownership and responsibility.  Indeed I would guess that Highways England would be very reluctant to take ownership because of (and you're ahead of me now) the financial burden of doing so.

§ Even if Highways England were willing to take ownership it would be limited to its area of responsibility which is limited, according to its web page
to 'strategic road network in England, comprising motorways and some A roads'.  I assume there are not too many of these roads crossing CaRT waterways.

Not responsible for Scotland or Wales

§ Highways England is not responsible for Scotland or Wales.  Although the density of canals is lower than in England this is still a weak spot in the overall argument.  I would assume the financial argument would be heard from both 'Traffic Scotland' and 'Traffic Wales'.

§ Highways England is not responsible for the many small (mainly hump-back) bridges for which responsibility lies with the relative local authority.  I would, again assume the local authorities would not be willing to take on ownership.

The suggestion that CaRT could donate/sell bridges is not well thought through and unlikely to become a reality.