Dorset Council highways service are responsible for maintaining most of the highway structures in the council area.

This includes regular inspections, maintenance, upgrading work, management of substandard bridges prior to upgrading and replacement.

Dorset Council structures

Residents and businesses will use council-owned structures – bridges, steps, retaining walls, culverts – in their everyday life, sometimes unknowingly as many of these structures lie unseen beneath the road, pavement or footpath. Structures such as:

  • over 889 bridges (structures over 1.5 metres span)
  • 295 small culverts (between 0.9 and 1.5 metres span)
  • 155 retaining walls
  • two tunnels (in Beaminster and in Weymouth on the Rodwell Trail)
  • more than 150 other structures such as large rights of way bridges

Inspections & maintenance

Each structure is inspected every two years by the council’s in-house experienced inspectors, and larger structures also receive more detailed principal inspections every six to eight years.

Many council structures are historic and are listed buildings, so the highways service work closely with both English Heritage and Historical England, with planning permission applied for where necessary to carry out works.

On top of this, work is only allowed to take place in main rivers with permission from the Environment Agency (EA), which is often restrict to between the beginning of April and the end of October to protect spawning fish. The team works alongside the EA to ensure wildlife and important habitats are not disturbed.

The council’s highly skilled highways operatives usually carry out any planned and emergency repairs, supported by supply chain partners to access additional or specialist skills and equipment.


Wherever possible, efforts are made to reduce the carbon footprint of maintenance activities. This includes using FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastic), GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) and other eco-friendly products. As well as recycling or up-cycling materials from one site into another.

Maintenance – what to expect

Before work takes place, the highways team will send letters to the residents and businesses likely to be affected by the works. Yellow advance warning signs will be put out two weeks before any road closure to ensure regular users of the road are aware of upcoming restrictions.

During work

  • please move vehicles away from the works area to help provide a safe working space
  • please keep to any signed diversion routes, or if using a local alternative route ensure it is suitable for your vehicle


  • the site will be cleared of any waste and made safe
  • the team may return to the area to complete landscaping works, such as re-seeding soil and planting shrubs/trees

You can find roadworks in your area on our roadworks map.

Report a problem

Report a problem with a bridge, tunnel, subway or other structure