Repair work on 150-year-old Grade II listed bridge is unlikely to be carried out because the council says the £400,000 bill is too large.
The Friargate rail bridge in Derby was bought by the city council in 1980 for £1. It has been unused for years.
The council said stripping the old lead paint away, re-painting, and replacing hundreds of bolts would cost £400,000.
But the huge bill means the council plans to just continue with essential safety and maintenance work.
Dennis O'Neil, head of engineering design at Derby City Council, said the bridge is perfectly safe: "It is structurally strong so unless something large comes along and hits it, it is not in danger."
"It still looks good, but I admit it needs a lick of paint," he said.
He said the bridge is only carrying its own weight, adding: "It doesn't do anything but stand there and look pretty."