Edinburgh's North Bridge reopens to two-way traffic after major refurbishment over 18 months
and live on Freeview channel 276
Edinburgh’s North Bridge is set to reopen to two-way traffic on Friday, 21 April, after the completion of essential work which has seen it closed to northbound traffic for a year and a half. Drivers and pedestrians have been dealing with partial closures of the busy city centre bridge since 2018, when essential repair and replacement works started on its concrete deck, last replaced in the 1930s.
Following work on the traffic signalling sequence traffic will return both ways from around 12pm, the council confirmed. The bridge, which links the Capital’s old and new towns, was shut for eight days in April while overnight works were carried out to gear up for the reopening. Under the ‘complex’ refurbishment the bridge has seen the replacement of a large section of the deck, waterproofing and resurfacing. The project has been dogged by delays and has cost more than double it’s originally agreed budget.
Transport and environment convener councillor Scott Arthur said: “The reopening of North Bridge to two-way traffic will be great news to many and I’d like to thank all those who live in and travel through the area for their patience while this essential work was carried out. In particular, I would like to thank the local business community and bus passengers for their patience. So much of what happens in the North Bridge Refurbishment Project goes unseen, but it’s a huge, complex scheme involving intricate, specialist skills and significant repairs to decades-old infrastructure.
“The partial closure of the bridge to traffic has allowed the team to carry out crucial work to restore and reinforce the deck for future generations. I look forward to seeing the project unfold further as the bridge’s façade is revived to its former glory. North Bridge was constructed by Sir William Arrol after he completed both the Forth Bridge and Tower Bridge, and this work should ensure it maintains the same iconic status.”
The refurbishment of the bridge started in 2018 after “multiple structural and safety defects” were identified. But since then, more issues have been discovered with the historic crossing, as sections not inspected since its construction 130 years ago were found to be in need of major repairs.
Last year the council approved an additional £25.8m for the increasingly expensive refurbishment, which took the total to £62m – more than double the originally agreed budget. It was revealed in January this year that the total cost of the project has risen even further, with a report showing expenditure projections for the North Bridge are £8.3m this financial year, exceeding its allocation by £1.2m. It said, however, that the overall increase in costs “is likely to be significantly more than this”.
Work being carried out by construction teams includes a grit blast and repaint of all structural steelwork, improvements to pavements and underdrainage and installation of ‘structural health monitoring systems’. In addition, they will restore and repair the King’s Own Scottish Borderers War Memorial, located on the east plinth of the bridge’s south pier. Rory McFadden, Balfour Beatty Project Director, said: "The reopening of the North Bridge to traffic marks a momentous milestone, culminating months of hard work and tenacity from our dedicated team. I would like to thank the local community in Edinburgh for their co-operation and patience during these essential works, which once complete, will ensure that this iconic structure remains for generations to come.”