A TOTAL of 26 of the region’s road bridges have been classed as substandard - leading to weight restrictions or increased monitoring programmes.

The Scottish Borders is ranked sixth in the whole of Scotland for the most substandard bridges, with only Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross, East Ayrshire, Highland, and Argyll and Bute having more.

Analysis from the RAC Foundation shows that throughout Great Britain there is a backlog of 72,000 council-owned bridges that are in need of maintenance.

Of these, 3,177 are considered substandard.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Establishing the condition of our highway bridges provides a litmus test for the condition of our road network more generally, and the condition is worrying.

“While we should draw some comfort from the good knowledge highway authorities have about the strength and structural integrity of their bridges, the fact is that many thousands are subject to enhanced monitoring, speed and weight restrictions, and the cost of bringing them up to scratch is continuing to mount.

“Ancient bridges on rural back roads might not be the highest priority for repair, but the risk we run is that substandard structures on some roads result in heavier vehicles having to make lengthy detours.”

Scottish Borders Council has around 1,200 bridges to maintain across the region, some of which are in very rural areas.

Some of the weight restrictions are the result of tight bends, which would be hard to negotiate for larger vehicles, and due to a desire to preserve historic crossings, as is the case with the Union Chain Bridge.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson confirmed that the local authority has no plans to carry out bridge improvement works to remove weight restrictions from the region’s ‘substandard’ bridges.

They said: “The council has 26 bridges with weight restrictions as opposed to specifically being ‘substandard’.

“Scottish Borders Council continually reviews and prioritises the required works to its bridge stock to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose.

“Given the current condition, nature (many being masonry arches), location, route significance, lack of diversion routes, likely disruption to local community due to works and the council’s current budget, there are no current plans to strengthen or undertake road alignment works to the 26 bridges which would result in the weight restrictions being removed.”