A MYSTERY which has left traders and tourists scratching their heads – and rubbing their bruised legs – has been solved.
Rows of bollards which appeared unannounced along George IV Bridge were installed after fears were raised that heavy trucks could plunge through the weak pavements and land on the Cowgate, the Evening News can reveal.
Engineers insisted on the move after discovering the bridge was not as strong as first thought – and could give way if a heavy enough vehicle parked on the pavement.
Work to install a series of bollards was completed at the end of 2011, but the reason behind the installation remained a mystery until today.
Councillors on the city’s planning committee raised the issue after complaints from residents – who regard them as a hazard – and were astonished when officials told them of the risk.
Elisa Esposito, 38, who owns Cafe Lucano, said: “It was very much a mystery. We never received anything saying what they were for, so we didn’t know until now. People tend to sit on them and rest their bikes against them.
“I’m not entirely convinced that a truck could fall straight through the street but they have obviously done the research.”
Work to revamp roads and pavements on George IV Bridge has been ongoing since last year. Business owners have reported damp and ingress of water and it is believed the problem was identified then.
Councillor Joanna Mowat, who represents the city centre, first raised the issue at the council’s planning committee as members were not consulted on the move.
She said: “Can we make sure we discuss [future] implementation of these ruddy great Caithness stone bollards, or ‘trip hazards’ as they are known in local parlance.”
Councillor Eric Milligan added; “I suspect a lot of people have hurt their leg because these things are too low. Some of them are actually even lower because they’ve been broken.
“The danger is that if you’re walking in a crowd you can’t see them coming.”
Senior planner Will Garrett, from the council’s planning department, explained that engineers had discovered that the pavement was weak enough that a heavy lorry could fall through the pavement, landing either in the basement of a business or the Cowgate below.
He said: “We needed something physical to stop these vehicles parking on the pavements and going through the basements into the Cowgate.”