Edinburgh's North Bridge won't re-open until 2025 as 'previously concealed issues' revealed

Restoration works on Edinburgh’s historic North Bridge will not be completed until 2025 – five years after the structure had been originally due to reopen.

Drivers and pedestrians have been dealing with partial closures of the busy city centre bridge since 2018, when essential repair and replacement works to its concrete deck started.

The original full re-opening date for North Bridge was set for 2020, but there have been several delays to the project.

An official document published on Thursday revealed the new completion date would be June 18, 2025. However, an Edinburgh City Council spokesperson said the 120-year-old bridge would remain open for traffic and pedestrians throughout.

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This revised timeframe was released only weeks after the announcement the current one-way system would be kept until spring 2023, despite original plans for the road to fully re-open after the festival in August.

Transport and environment convener, Councillor Scott Arthur, said the “complexity” of the project had led to further investigations uncovering “previously concealed” issues.

He said: “This is an extremely complex project to refurbish Edinburgh’s iconic North Bridge and to ensure its longevity as a key link from the north to the south of the city.

Traffic restrictions have been in force on North Bridge since November 2021.

“The historic nature of the project, the age of the structure and its heritage value finds the team uncovering elements of the bridge which require significant specialist work.

“We’re communicating with local residents, businesses and stakeholders, as well as Lothian Buses.”

Since November last year, vehicles have only been able to travel across the bridge via a single southbound lane, with pedestrians limited to the eastern footpath. Northbound bus traffic is diverted via Chambers Street, George IV Bridge and the Mound.

In March, a council committee warned there would be “continued timeline slippage” to the project, unless further funding was given.

In response, councillors agreed to allocate more money to the refurbishment, taking the total cost to £62.181m – more than £40m more than originally budgeted.

Cllr Arthur said: “I’d like to thank everyone for their patience at this time, and look forward to the completion of the project, which will return this category A designated structure to its full glory.

“I’ve asked that councillors receive more regular updates on progress going forward, along with details of any budget pressures.”