Bridges managed by local governments have been neglected for a long time, and their security is questionable.
The audit was carried out on 332 bridges in 11 municipalities. 98 of those were deemed not secure. The situation with municipal bridges and overpasses is likely to be similar throughout Latvia.
The audit shows that municipalities often fail to implement many of the necessary management measures. Bridges are generally not perceived as engineering structures, but as normal road sections. And management is limited to works needed to maintain the carriageway, for example, patchwork.
City authorities are familiar with the measures to improve the situation of the bridges. However, municipalities do not even do so in many areas. Only 16% of bridges have undergone major inspections. Regulatory enactments do not precisely define specific management activities for bridge owners.
An alarming trend is also the “head in the sand” policy observed in individual municipalities, where the public is not informed about already known unsafe bridges.
The reason for the sad situation with municipal bridges is the lack of funding. The longer the bridge maintenance and recovery jobs are postponed, the higher the costs are expected in the future. It is a serious problem for which large investments will be needed: almost €85 million.
If state and local governments do not create solutions, we can expect consequences that will hurt both the mobility of the population, the security, and the economy as a whole.