CCTV cameras have gone live on an historic 15th Century River Dart bridge to capture hit-and-run motorists who are causing thousands of pound worth of damage.
The Grade II listed 604-year-old Holne New Bridge has been hit and damaged 67 times since 1999 which has included coping stones of up to 200 kg being knocked into the River Dart below.
But the county council has been able to recover damages on just five occasions.
The narrowness of the medieval bridge means that there are vehicle length and width restrictions, with vehicle size warning signs at Dartmeet and from the Ashburton direction.
Much of the damage has been caused by drivers ignoring the signs and because of the remoteness of the bridge there are rarely any witnesses – except when buses and articulated lorries have got stuck.
The cutting edge CCTV system has the latest in number plate and facial recognition technology and the bridge will be monitored 24-hours-day, seven days a week.
Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s highways spokesman said: ’Holne New Bridge has been around for hundreds of years, since Henry V was crowned king of England, and should stand around for hundreds more – as long as drivers stop bashing into it.’
Devon has 3 500 bridges, more than any other highways authority.
Cllr added: ‘Typically total bridge damage repairs cost £100,000 a year, but already by Christmas we had spent £120,000 just in the south area, which has just a third of all our bridges.
‘CCTV will identify the vehicles and drivers. We understand that accidents can happen and if damage has occurred initially we will approach the driver and try to come to an arrangement.
‘But if the driver fails to respond, is a repeat offender or the damage is severe and they fail to stop, we will pass their details onto the police who can take action for failing to report an accident.’