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Bridges and structures: weight limits and transporting abnormal loads

Find out about weight or width restrictions on public roads.

Last updated: 26 June 2022

Next review: 23 June 2023

The council can impose weight or width restrictions on public roads for structural or environmental reasons. Such restrictions prevent large vehicles from using certain roads, routes and areas in order to:

  • reduce danger to pedestrians and other road users
  • prevent damage to buildings, roads and bridges
  • preserve the character, amenity and environment of an area
  • reduce and manage congestion on the roads

Bridges and other Highway Structures

Highway structures are managed as a special type of Highways “asset” because they usually require advanced engineering.

Highway structures include bridges, viaducts, culverts (small tunnels taking water under a road), subways, footbridges and retaining walls. 

There are some 128 highway structures in Waltham Forest and approximately 106 of these are owned and maintained by the London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF). (Some of the others are bridges owned by Network Rail and the Environment Agency). All our owned structures are inspected regularly so that we can check their current condition and arrange any urgent safety repairs or programme other maintenance works.

It is the Highways Structures section at LBWF who look after these bridges and other structures across the borough to help keep LBWF moving safely.

Transporting abnormal loads

An 'abnormal load' is a vehicle that has any of the following:

  • A weight of more than 44,000 kilograms
  • An axle load of more than 10,000 kilograms for a single non-driving axle and 11,500 kilograms for a single driving axle
  • A width of more than 2.9 meters
  • A rigid length of more than 18.65 meters

If you’re responsible for transporting an abnormal load, you need to follow regulations for notifying the authorities including the Police; highways authorities and other bridge or structure owners e.g. Network Rail.

Full details and information on Highways England’s electronic service delivery for abnormal loads (ESDAL) can be found on GOV.UK website.

You must allow time to get the necessary clearances from the police and the highways and bridge authorities. For example, a Special Order application must be completed 10 weeks before the scheduled date of the move.

What we do

In addition to Abnormal Load Vehicle monitoring the Structures Team carry out:

  • Inspections - The Highways Structures section carry out inspections throughout the year using a risk-based approach to determine the time period between inspections for a particular structure.  The aim of these inspections is to keep the structures safe for all users considering that many structures are key points central to the life of the community.
  • Carrying out assessments on structures to determine their strength, using the results to place structures on the repair or replacement programme.
  • Carrying out Principal Inspections, Feasibility Studies, Detail Designs and Site management.
  • To project-manage repair and replacement schemes, ensuring that LBWF residents, our colleagues and our partners are kept informed of progress.
  • Review planning submissions that include structures that support the publicly maintainable highway either temporarily or permanently, generally in the construction or modification of basements, to ensure they are designed in accordance with the appropriate standards.
  • Investigate and repair damage resulting from vehicle collision, storms, flooding, or other causes as soon as possible.
  • Review and erect headroom signs on bridges where necessary. The standard minimum clearance provided over every part of the carriageway of a public highway is 16’6” (5.03m). All bridges with headroom less than this value are signed to identify the maximum height of a vehicle which can safely pass on the carriageway under the bridge without impacting on it. This mainly affects bridges that are owned and maintained by Network Rail that carry trains, however it is the Highways Authority who are responsible for any signage.

What we are not responsible for:

  • Private Bridges
  • Railway Bridges - These are managed by Network Rail     03457 11 41 41
  • Bridges over the A12/A406 - These are managed by TfL   03432 22 12 34

Enforcement

Where a weight limit is in place this is indicated by regulatory traffic signs. You can report repeated violations by calling 0203 092 0112.  Alternatively, contact Parking Services.

Waltham Forest Parking Services

Parking Services

PO Box 54410
London
E10 7YS