Lifespan of two Edinburgh bridges ‘significantly’ extended following £1.9m works

STORY Contracting has completed ‘extensive’ refurbishment to two Edinburgh city centre bridges on behalf of Network Rail.

The £1.9 million project lasted nine months and involved engineers undertaking ‘essential’ steel strengthening and repairs at Calton Road and New Street. A new collision protection beam, designed to protect the bridge at New Street from being struck by vehicles, was also installed.

With both structures over 120-years old, the bridge improvement works are part of a wider, rolling programme designed to keep the railway safe and reliable for passengers and freight customers.

Christina Thomson, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said, “This was a significant undertaking given that we were working on two bridges consecutively in a confined city centre location. Vital improvement work is necessary in allowing us to maintain and enhance our assets, including bridges and viaducts.

“Across the network, the majority of these structures have served the railway for over a century-and-a-half and will continue to do so for many years to come because of the commitment by our engineers in helping to preserve them. For safety reasons when delivering the works, we had lane and road closures in place at both bridges. We are very grateful to the community and road users for their understanding and patience during this time.”

Over the course of the project grit blasting eliminated old paint and rust before engineers installed over 24 tonnes of new steelwork to the deck and external parapets to strengthen the structure. A three-coat paint system was then applied to the new and existing steelwork before a new collision protection beam was installed at the New Street bridge.

Network Rail revealed that more than 8,500 hours were worked to complete the grit blasting and painting operations alone, with around 130 tonnes of grit and 2,220 litres of paint used. By completing this work, the organisation said it has ‘significantly’ extended the lifespan of the bridges, as work on this scale won’t be required for at least another 25 years.