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Audit warns 840 bridges may be at risk of collapse in France

Government comes under new pressure to increase infrastructure maintenance spending after bridge collapse in Italy.


About 840 bridges across France are suffering from serious damage and are at risk of collapse in the coming years, according to an audit commissioned by the French government.

President Emmanuel Macron's government had already promised new infrastructure spending but is coming under new pressure after a bridge collapse in neighbouring Italy on Tuesday killed 43 people.

The audit published on Sunday by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, said a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs.

About seven percent, or about 840 bridges, present a "risk of collapse" in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels, the audit said.

The audit did not address thousands of other French bridges maintained by private companies or local authorities, which have seen budget cuts in recent years.

The government released a summary of the audit last month, blaming previous administrations for inconsistent and inadequate road funding. It also said the growth in traffic and increasing episodes of extreme weather have worsened the problem.

The Transport Ministry did not respond to The Associated Press news agency's requests for comment on Sunday.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told broadcaster Franceinfo last week that bridge "maintenance is our priority" and announced plans for a 1bn euro ($1.14bn) plan to "save the nation's roads", including bridges and tunnels.

She reiterated plans for a new infrastructure law after the summer holidays.

The Genoa bridge collapse shone a spotlight on road maintenance in Italy.

Italian investments in roads sank most dramatically among the top five European economies after the 2008 economic crisis and have never fully recovered, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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