Genoa bridge disaster raises concerns over 840 bridges 'at risk of collapse' in France

Report warns 6 per cent of bridges will be 'out of service' by 2037 without increased investment

Conrad Duncan
Sunday 19 August 2018 17:37
EU hits back at Italy populists over Genoa bridge collapse: 'We gave you money to fix your infrastructure'

More than 800 bridges across France are suffering from serious damage and are at risk of collapsing, according to an audit commissioned by the French government.

The audit, reported by Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, said a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France needed repairs.

It also warned 7 per cent – about 840 bridges – present a “risk of collapse” in coming years and may need to be closed down.

Years of insufficient investment was blamed for the poor state of France’s road network and the audit predicted that by 2037, 62 per cent of roads would be “very degraded” and 6 per cent of bridges would be “out of service”.

The report said that although France invests more in its road network than countries in southern Europe, it invests less than other northern European countries, such as Austria, Switzerland and the UK.

The audit’s findings have caused alarm following the Genoa bridge collapse in Italy which killed 43 people on Tuesday.

Although the audit was first published last month, it is now expected to put further pressure on President Emmanuel Macron’s government to increase infrastructure spending.

The current budget for restoring infrastructure is reported to be €800m for 2018, and a €1bn (£900m) investment plan to “save the nation’s roads” has been announced.

"Our wish is to increase this budget considerably, and this decision will be discussed and debated in parliament in the autumn," the Ministry of Transport said.

An official from the ministry also insisted in an interview on France Info radio that the report’s findings were not cause for panic.

“When we talk about bridges in poor or very poor condition, we must take into account the fact that we are talking about fragility in the long term,” they said. “Infrastructure will not be open if it is not totally secure for the public."

The audit did not reveal which bridges were most at risk and only investigated those maintained by the French government. It did not address thousands of other bridges which were maintained by private companies or local authorities in the country.

Agencies contributed to this report

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