Edinburgh Shandon Bridge: Residents and businesses frustrated by closure of bridge in Ashley Terrace
Residents and businesses are frustrated at the closure of an Edinburgh road bridge over a former railway line after workmen dug too deep and “broke” the bridge.
Shandon bridge at Ashley Terrace has been closed since January, disrupting deliveries to local shops and forcing buses to be diverted as well as inconveniencing nearby residents. CityFibre were digging a trench on the bridge to lay cables as part of their work to install a full-fibre network across the Capital when it is understood they went too deep and dislodged stonework on the underside of the bridge. The company is currently in talks about repairs with Network Rail, who own the bridge. But it is unclear when the necessary work will be carried out.
Christopher Cowdy, Conservative councillor for Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, said there had already been significant travel disruption around the city as a result of CityFibre’s cable-laying. But he said: “Things have been taken to a new level as they appear to have dug one of their trenches too deep. Residents have complained to me that CityFibre have “broken” the Ashley Terrace bridge. The bridge was closed on January 17 before reopening one lane, then closing again as Network Rail vetoed how the repair was to be carried out.”
And he said it now turned out CityFinbre did not have the required permission to be carrying out the work on the bridge in the first place. “It wasn't part of the works authorised by the council,” he said. Meanwhile, everyone wants to know when the bridge will reopen.
Cllr Cowdy said: “Businesses have been having difficulty with deliveries and refuse collections. Some have said if they knew what was happening they could contact the delivery companies and make arrangements, but they don't know what’s going on. People have to take detours to get to their houses. Traffic is being diverted, which is causing knock on problems with congestion, for example up in Craiglockhart Avenue, and creating more traffic on Colinton Road. An increased flow of traffic on Harrison Gardens and Harrison Road causing difficulties for children crossing the road to get to school and there are increasing reports of car damage because Harrison Road is very narrow, there are cars parked on either side of the street, drivers are getting frustrated and trying to force their way down n are scraping cars as the go. We need to open the bridge, get traffic flowing, let people know what’s going on and allow people to get around.”
The Terrace Cafe in Ashley Terrace said it had lost a lot of business from trades people and cyclists who used to stop for rolls in the mornings. Keystore convenience store said it had seen a 60 per cent drop in trade and some deliveries cancelled because of diversions. Food store Margiotta said business was down from lack of passing trade. And several shops said the diversion of the No 38 bus had also led to fewer customers.
A report to the city council last year revealed CityFibre had received more fixed penalty notices than any other public utility operator for breaching roadworks requirements – a total of 176, nearly a third of all fines issued.
Paul Wakefield, CityFibre’s area manager for Edinburgh, said: “Following full fibre deployment by CityFibre on Ashley Terrace and Shandon Place, the bridge which spans the old railway line has been closed and has temporary traffic restrictions in place for additional reinstatement works. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and to reassure residents that we are working closely with the council and Network Rail to find a solution to reopen the bridge as soon as possible.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “While we appreciate that the bridge is a key route for residents and businesses, it can only be re-opened to traffic after a safe and appropriate repair has been proposed and completed.”
Transport convener Scott Arthur said council officers were liaising with CityFibre and Network Rail to ensure the bridge was repaired as quickly as possible. “Officers are currently investigating the lack of valid works notice for work on January 16 on Shandon bridge. As a local authority we work with public utilities companies to support and encourage communication with residents about issues on roads and pavements, while also closely monitoring their performance. In CityFibre’s case, I have met with their city manager and the council took decisive action in February by issuing an Improvement Notice in response to complaints and poor management. This has led to CityFibre producing an Improvement Plan which outlines a positive way forward for delivering works in the city, which will be closely monitored.”