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Council in deep over cost of bridge repairs

Published: 22 Feb 2013 09:301 comment

SOME of the region's most iconic bridges are starting to crumble. And the council doesn't have the cash to keep up with the repairs.

Engineers at the local authority last week released a list of 16 structures which require 'significant work' with an accompanying bill of over £6 million.

But only a couple of them will make their way onto next year's work programme - and fears are growing that the bridge backlog will continue to build as extreme weather batters the Borders.

It is estimated that the historic Drygrange Footbridge - which used to carry the A68 across Leaderfoot - will require around £700,000 to be spent on repairs. And another iconic structure just outside St Boswells, Mertoun Bridge, is in desperate need of around £250,000 of work.

Robert Young, head of engineering at Scottish Borders Council, told last week's Infrastructure Committee meeting: "Within the large bridge stock there are some that require significant works - these structures will continue to deteriorate due to weather conditions and loading.

"Drygrange Bridge is showing signs of separation and deep cracking in places. Mertoun Bridge has weathering problems on the parapets, as well as accident damage and erosion caused by salt."

Only two major bridge works are currently scheduled for 2013/14 works - Martins Bridge near Hawick and Carlowse Bridge in Tweedsmuir.

But it leaves many others, including Ettrick Bridge and Broadmeadows Bridge in the valleys below Selkirk, to continue deteriorating.

Around £250,000 will need to be spent on both bridges.

Selkirkshire Councillor Vicky Davidson told us: "We have known about the problems at these bridges for a couple of years and repairs will have to be carried out at some point.

"The problem with both of these bridges, as well as the cost, will be diversion routes during the weeks they are closed."

Scottish Borders Council are responsible for a total of 1201 bridges across the region. And extreme weather conditions throughout 2012 has led to several showing signs of damage.

The list containing 16 of the structures in need to the most repair has been drawn up, with an accompanying costings of around £6.35 million.

But the bridge budget for 2013/14 is less than £1 million, which includes day-to-day work such as painting, cleaning and removal of vegetation as well as major structural operations.

Tweeddale Councillor Nathanial Buckingham said: "We have a list here of significant works. Next year that bill could have grown to £10 million - we have to monitor this.

"I am pleased that work is to go ahead at Carlowse - if it was lost people would have significant journeys to make."

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