A DECAYING Borders suspension bridge closed to traffic for three years will not reopen to vehicles.

Investment of an estimated £4m would be required to carry out the improvements needed to enable traffic to once again cross the Kalemouth Bridge, which crosses the River Teviot just above its confluence with the Kale Water, near the village of Eckford.

But last week members of Scottish Borders Council’s decision-making Executive Committee did agree instead to pursue external funding of £1m to ensure its continued use by pedestrians and cyclists.

The bridge, between Jedburgh and Kelso, is a category A-listed structure which carries the unclassified D101/4 public road over the Teviot.

It is a fine example of a historic wrought iron chain-bar suspension bridge with timber deck.

The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in August 2020 when substantial decay was discovered in some of the main timber deck elements.

Jedburgh councillor Sandy Scott said: “I know the local population would like to see it restored to its former glory but if anyone has got four million quid lying around then please give it to us and we will do that.

“But the bottom line is that funding has got to be sought even to do what is planned here, so needs must.”

Fellow Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton added: “As a local member I echo those frustrations of the community but this paper outlines the best outcome. I welcome this. I know it’s not going to be popular but I think it’s the right decision to get best value for the public pound.”

Prior to its closure the bridge had a 3T weight restriction which allowed single file traffic to cross the river between the A698 and the small settlement of Ormiston Mains, which consists of around 12 properties.

Various investigations and detailed assessment work has since been carried out and this has found that the main wrought iron suspension structure of the bridge is unable to demonstrate sufficient strength to safely carry 3T vehicles or sufficient strength to carry full pedestrian crowd loading.

Passage has therefore been further restricted to a maximum of 10 people at any one time.

A report to the committee said: “Due to the very high costs that would be associated with strengthening a category A-listed wrought iron suspension bridge and the potential for adverse impacts on the bridge’s special architectural and historic nature it is proposed to progress a scheme to only replace and renew the timber elements on the bridge.

“These elements have reached the end of their serviceable life and replacing them will safeguard the bridge into the future and ensure it can remain in use for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Costs associated with replacing all timber elements on the bridge are estimated to be around £1m and as such a proportion of external grant funding is being sought to allow these works to go ahead.”

If all goes to plan the repairs would be carried out in 2025/26.