Traffic chaos warning for town high street after decision to close bridge for New Year Musselburgh races

Racecourse boss fears the Electric Bridge will never reopen.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 6:00 am
Musselburgh Racecourse

Musselburgh’s high street could be set for traffic chaos after a long-standing agreement to open a disused bridge in the town will not take place for one of the racecourse’s busiest days of the year.

The Electric Bridge, which runs over the River Esk and has traditionally been used as the main route for races traffic for years.

In 2013, the bridge’s owners Scottish Power closed and stopped maintaining the bridge, but an agreement was struck with East Lothian Council for the bridge to be open on race days, provided personnel directed traffic.

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The Electric Bridge in Musselburgh, normally opened on race days (Photo: Google)

The bridge will be open for the 6,000 person sell-out New Year’s Day race meet, but will shut for Friday 3 January’s Betway Jumps Meeting.

However, the racecourse fears the bridge could never reopen again following the decision to shut the bridge for the meet.

Scottish Power would not be drawn over the potential future use of the bridge for race meets.

Closure will put 'further strain' on High Street

General manager of Musselburgh Racecourse, Bill Farnsworth, said the decision would cause disruption in the town’s High Street.

He also urged Scottish Power and East Lothian Council to reconsider the decision.

Mr Farnsworth said: “The Electric Bridge is in perfectly good working order and this decision to close the bridge will put further strain on the already very busy High Street.

“It will cause disruption to not only our racegoers but to local residents who find it a useful alternative route when we are racing.

“I would urge both ScottishPower and East Lothian Council to reconsider this decision and to put their heads together to come up with a solution which benefits the entire community.

“ScottishPower have benefited commercially from the Cockenzie facility for more than 50 years and they could leave behind a meaningful legacy if they were to agree that the bridge can continue to be used to ease traffic congestion on race days.”

The racecourse boss added that the closure of the bridge would also lead to a rise in the amount of pollution on the High Street, levels of which are already too high according to the council.

Mr Farnsworth said: “The council’s own Air Quality Action Plan has identified in recent years that Musselburgh High Street road traffic related pollution does not meet acceptable standards and this misguided move will increase traffic and pollution and add to inconvenience for local residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors to the town.”

A spokesman for Scottish Power said: “The bridge will be open for the race meeting on 1st January but unfortunately will be closed on 3rd January. This had been communicated to Musselburgh Racecourse.

“We are in discussions with East Lothian Council regarding the future use of the bridge.”

East Lothian Council were contacted for comment.