Potholes, bridges at risk of collapse: French roads in a desperate state, report says

A recent report carried out by the French government on the country's road network and bridges has been making headlines once again in light of the bridge collapse in northern Italy which claimed 39 lives.

Potholes, bridges at risk of collapse: French roads in a desperate state, report says

The French government needs to spend €1 billion a year for 20 years to fix its national road network which is in such a poor state that bridges are at risk of collapse, tunnels are in a sorry condition and potholes are everywhere, a recent report has concluded.

Of the 12,000 bridges in France looked after by the French state, one third are in need of repair, the report reveals.

The report, commissioned by the government's own ministry of transport also paints a worrying picture of the 12,000 km of state owned road networks in France.

It concluded that “17 percent of the network today is in a significant state of degradation” and that “seven percent of other kinds of infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges need renovation work”.

Covering the report La Depeche newspaper noted: “These findings will not surprise anyone. Motorists have noted this progressive degradation for years.”

And there have been worrying examples of the dangers spoken about in the report.

In May this year, the A15 motorway had to be closed in the direction of Paris when part of the Gennevilliers viaduct subsided (see tweet below). The motorway bridge remains closed for repair works that have caused knock-on traffic chaos around the area.



France's Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said the partial subsidence of the bridge reflected the sorry state of the whole network which has suffered due to decades of neglect.

In 2015 the motorist organisation “40 Million d'automobilistes” launched a participative operation to denounce the state of the roads in France in which it asked drivers to flag up the roads they considered the most dangerous.

The organisation's chief Pierre Chasseray said that the quality of the maintenance of the roads is called into question in the case of 47 percent of road accidents in France.

The ministry of transport's report points the finger of blame for the poor state of roads in France at the chronic lack of investment over the years.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne herself denounced the poor state of a network that has been left for decades to deteriorate due to a lack of maintenance.

The government is planning on investing €800 million a year between 2018 and 2023 in the country's road network, but for those behind the report it's simply not enough.

Many of The Local's readers were surprised by the damning report, believing that the roads in France, despite the problems, are still in a much better state than elsewhere in the EU.

Member comments

  1. You cannot compare the state of the roads in a relatively poor country like the Czech republic.
    France is a rich country with some of the most appalling road conditions anywhere.
    In our area of the Creuse some of the roads are in such a bad condition that they are positively dangerous and harmful to your wheels and suspension.
    The problem is that the road maintenance appears to consist of just chucking a bit of tar and gravillon in to a pothole and leaving it at that and not resurfacing properly.
    If a regime of proper maintenance was introduced it would save a considerable amount of time and money.

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Drivers in France to be spied on by 400 ‘super speed cameras’

Hundreds of hi-tech “speed cameras of the future” are to be be installed this year on roads across France, which has had three quarters of its existing cameras vandalised since the start of the “yellow vest” protests several months ago.

Drivers in France to be spied on by 400 'super speed cameras'
A vandalised speed camera in Corsica in December. Photo: AFP

The cameras, perched on four-metre tall posts, have been tested in Marseille and Strasbourg and now 400 of them will be rolled out over the coming year, with three times that number to be set up next year, France Info reported.

The devices are capable of not only clocking your speed but also recording a variety of other misdemeanours, such as phoning while driving, sudden swerving, not wearing a seatbelt, or overtaking on the right, which is illegal in France.

But in the short term the cameras, whose brand name is the Mesta Fusion 2 and which can monitor eight lanes of traffic and several vehicles at once, will be used only to catch people speeding.


There will be four decoy cameras for each operating one, and the decoys and the real ones will be switched regularly to prevent drivers figuring out which are the ones catching them breaking the law.

The new cameras are said to be far harder to vandalise than existing ones.


The French government last week blamed a steep rise in road deaths in February on the yellow vest movement, during which three quarters of speed cameras on the country’s roads have been vandalised or put out of action in recent months.

Official figures said that 253 people were killed on the roads in France in February, a 17.1 percent increase on the same time last year.

Previously road deaths had been going down. There were 3,259 deaths on the country's roads in 2018 – down from 3,448 deaths the previous year.

But they have started to rise again since the yellow vest movement began late last year.

Some protesters angry about planned rises in fuel tax and the rising costs of travel to work, and about a recent lowering of speed limits on some roads, turned their ire on speed cameras.