HC Deb 15 December 1971 vol 828 cc435-6
8. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the present position regarding investigation into the safety of box girder bridges; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

Restrictions have been lifted on 19 of the 51 steel box girder bridges in service. Restrictions on a further eight will be lifted on completion of strengthening now being arranged. Investigations in the remaining cases are not yet complete. Three bridges previously under construction have been strengthened and opened to traffic.

Mr. Osborn

I accept that this has presented the Department and civil and structural engineers with a real problem. Could my hon. Friend say how many bridges are not in use at present? Is he aware that the Tinsley bridge is still not in full use, and does he not agree that this is not a very good example for a city which is supposed to be a city of steel?

Mr. Page

The calculation of these bridges is an extremely lengthy and complex business. We have 50 design offices, many of which have several teams working on it with the assistance of computer aid, and we are trying to speed up the work. I am satisfied that we should not open any of these bridges until we are quite satisfied that they are strong enough.

Mr. Mulley

If I table a Question to the hon. Gentleman, will he try to give a date when the Tinsley bridge will be open, because it is a matter of great concern in Sheffield.

Mr. Page

Yes, indeed. I have not the date before me at present, but if the right hon. Gentleman will table a Question I will answer it.