The future of a historic Inverness bridge could be secured if Highland councillors this week approve vital funding for repairs.
Concerns were raised over the future of the Category B listed structure last year due to its deteriorating condition and the £550,000 needed for its repair. It supports an average of 40,000 pedestrian crossings a month, reaching 68,000 in peak times.
A report to the meeting warns that, due to its condition, it is likely the bridge will be closed within five years if no work is carried out. Monthly assessments are undertaken and it could be shut immediately if concerns arose, reports the Press and Journal.
But, at present, it is closed during major events at areas like Bught Park because it cannot take large numbers of people at the same time. The Infirmary Bridge, dating from 1876, is a popular crossing over the River Ness between Ness Walk and Ness Bank. The last substantial repairs were undertaken in 1977 and 1994 by the predecessor authority Highland Regional Council.
The recommended repairs will extend the suspension bridge’s life by 20-25 years. Strengthening works have been ruled out as they would still be insufficient to remove the crowd loading restrictions. A replacement has also been discounted due the cost of around £4 million and the bridge’s listed status.
Highland Council’s economy and infrastructure committee will discuss this week a recommendation to allocate the money for repairs from a £7.4 million strategic roads scheme fund.
The council will examine a range of funding opportunities for the project which could reduce the capital allocation needed, according to the report.
Construction would be programmed in summer-autumn next year and will have to be coordinated with a time of year that will not affect the river’s salmon.
The council-owned Infirmary Bridge, which crosses the river at the Royal Northern Infirmary, is in the Inverness Riverside Conservation Area. The structure forms part of the Inverness City Active Travel Network.