Edinburgh's North Bridge to remain partially closed for nine months longer after council discovers more repairs needed

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The partial closure of Edinburgh’s North Bridge is to be extended for about nine months after investigations revealed a key part of the structure was in worse condition than expected.

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The current one-way system on the A-listed bridge linking the Old and New Towns will be kept in place until spring 2023. It had originally been due to reopen after the Festival in August.

Essential repair and replacement works to the concrete deck of the historic bridge have been under way for some time, but the council said further inspections had revealed the poor condition of the concrete within the central part of the deck or “central bay”, meaning that instead of around 35 per cent of it having to be replaced, it now requires full replacement along the entire length of the bridge.

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The council has not said how much the increased scope of the work will add to the cost of the project. Councillors agreed in March to allocate more money to the refurbishment, taking the total cost to £62.181m, over £40m more than originally budgeted.

Traffic has been restricted to one southbound lane since November 2021, with pedestrians limited to the eastern footpath. Northbound bus traffic is diverted via Chambers Street, George IV Bridge and the Mound.

These measures were always planned to continue through the Festival period, but the extra work to be carried out means the traffic restrictions will need to be extended to spring 2023.

The council said the central bay was not currently subject to motor traffic and was not considered a health and safety issue at present, but added it was essential these works were completed as soon as possible.

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

Transport convener Scott Arthur 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. The historic nature of the project, the age of the structure and its heritage value finds the team uncovering previously concealed elements of the bridge which require significant specialist work.

“The one-way system on the bridge means this work can be undertaken safely, both on top of the bridge deck and below the road level. Extending the length of time this traffic management is in place will mean the council can complete this section as quickly and as safely as possible. The city engineers tell me it is necessary that these works continue throughout the festival and well into next year. I have been assured that the council is putting additional measures in place to ensure pedestrian safety.

“We’re communicating with local residents, businesses and stakeholders, as well as Lothian Buses, to make sure they’re up-to-date with the changes, and there are clearly signed diversions in place. 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.”

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