£22.3 million cost of project 

As exclusively reported here in August 2016, the North Bridge needs substantial refurbishment to keep it safe and fit for purpose.

A report (Item 7.7) due to go before the Transport & Environment Committee on Thursday lays out the work required: 

  • Structural steelwork repairs.
  • Grit blasting and repainting of the structural steelwork.
  • Repairs to the cast iron façades.
  • Grit blasting and repainting of the cast iron façades.
  • Repairs to the underside of the bridge’s concrete deck.
  • Improvements to the structural drainage systems.
  • Replacement of expansion joints.
  • Restoration of, and repairs to, the King's Own Scottish Borderers War Memorial (to be funded in part by Edinburgh World Heritage and the King’s Own Scottiish Borderers’ Association).
  • Installation of permanent platforms to improve access provisions for future inspection and minor maintenance.
  • All temporary scaffolding required to access the structure.

An experienced contractor has already been identified (using the ‘National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure lot of the Scape Group Framework Agreement’) to make initial repairs and scope what remains to be done. The Council’s contract with them will first be scrutinised on 27 March by the Finance & Resources Committee, with formal appointment probably coming in April.

The project will most likely start this summer. There may be some off-peak, weekend or overnight lane closures, which will please all those drivers finding life too easy after the reopening of Leith Street.

Additional improvements

Designs are in progress for further but as yet unfunded improvements.

These possibilities include:

  • Widening footpaths by 700mm, thus slightly reducing the squeeze around bus stops.
  • Decluttering footpaths.
  • Replacing kerbs and paving with in compliance with Old/New Town heritage requirements.
  • Renewing bus shelters and street furniture.
  • 'Heritage-style' bollards to keep vehicles off pavements.
  • Lighting of architectural features.
  • Major improvement of junction with Waterloo Place and Princes Street to enhance provision for cyclists and pedestrians. (Spurtle would particularly welcome this.)

Prudential piggy bank

The £22.3 million cost of the work will be met from £10 million funding approved in the 2018/19 budget, and £12 million already allocated under the Capital Investment Programme 2018–2023. 

‘I am delighted that, thanks to prudent financial management, we will be able to progress with a series of repairs, ensuring the longevity of this iconic structure’, said T&E Convener Lesley Macinnes in a press statement today.

The current North Bridge structure was built between 1894 and 1897, and replaced a narrower version of 1772 which was built for £17,354.  It was widened in 1873, but complete replacement was necessary to accommodate increased traffic, and because the original piers were blocking expansion of the railway station below.

For an interesting account of the first bridge’s troubled construction, follow this link to Cassell’s Old and New Edinburgh by James Grant.


North Bridge
55° 57' 6.246" N, 3° 11' 17.9124" W