Whopping £4.7m needed to repair Chain Bridge ahead of bicentenary
The historically important Union Chain Bridge will cost almost £5million to repair.
The staggering figure, which wildly exceeds any available budget, could mean that the bridge will close to both traffic and pedestrians.
Opened in July 1820, the Union Chain Bridge, linking Horncliffe and Fishwick, is the oldest surviving iron chain suspension bridge in Europe.
But with funding not readily available, Scottish Borders Council - which has joint responsibility for the structure with Northumberland County Council, has admitted that closure is an option it is considering.
An SBC spokesman said: “If the councils were unable to raise the required funding it is likely that a phased closure would be implemented, with the bridge initially being closed off to vehicles, and then eventually to pedestrians as well.”
He added: “Of course, the closure of the bridge is something we’re seeking to avoid.”
At last month’s meeting of SBC’s environment and infrastructure committee, members were told that the bridge required a new chain suspension hanger system, substantial deck replacement, and upgrading of the existing parapets. An investigation is also required to establish the condition of the end anchors and tower chains.
The estimated cost of the repairs is £4.7million.
Options going forward range from maximum refurbishment - with both SBC and Northumberland County Council contributing £2.35m for repairs - to closing the bridge entirely.
Other options include undertaking some refurbishment with a risk based approach, and carrying out minimum refurbishment, which would enable the bridge to remain open to pedestrians only.
A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “We appreciate the interest in this historic bridge and, with that in mind, we have undertaken an in depth structural review of the bridge to ascertain its maintenance requirements. We are currently looking into various options and funding strategies with the Scottish Borders Council.”
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North east