Edinburgh's North Bridge refurbishment cost soars after it's discovered to be in worse condition than thought

THE cost of refurbishing Edinburgh's North Bridge has soared from £22 million to £36m after the landmark structure was found to be in worse condition than expected.
The last major refurbishment of North Bridge was in 1933The last major refurbishment of North Bridge was in 1933
The last major refurbishment of North Bridge was in 1933

Engineers were unable to carry out a full inspection of the bridge until full scaffolding was in place, but have now examined parts of it which have not been seen for nearly 90 years.

A briefing to councillors said: “Due to the nature of the construction of the bridge, full access behind the cast iron façade has not been available since it was constructed in 1897 and the last full refurbishment of this nature was in 1933. It has not been possible to properly inspect the hidden structural elements in almost 90 years.”

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The briefing said testing had led to the discovery of “extensive issues” with the existing concrete bridge deck constructed in 1933.

Inspecting the main arch girdersInspecting the main arch girders
Inspecting the main arch girders

“Significant corrosion and other issues with the structural steelwork have also been discovered.”

The A-listed bridge, which was built in 1897, was identified as needing a full refurbishment in 2017 and £22.29m has been allocated for the work from the city council’s capital investment programme.

Work started in June 2018 and is due to be completed in November 2022, subject to the impact of Covid. It includes structural steelwork repairs, preparation and painting of the structure and facades, repairs to cast iron facades, repairs to the underside of the concrete deck, restoration of the KOSB war memorial and installation of permanent platforms to improve access for future inspections and maintenance.

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The extra work now required, including costs from Covid, will add £14.13m to the bill, pushing the total cost up to £36.42m.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “This is an extremely complex project to restore and maintain one of Edinburgh’s most iconic structures, which also forms an essential route from the north to the south of the city.

“The completion of North Bridge’s restoration is essential for the safety of the public, for travel to and from the city and to Edinburgh’s unique heritage site, and the funding pressure will be addressed as part of the wider budget-setting process.”

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