The need for regular inspections of the Borders’ bridges following stark warnings about the safety of two of the region’s river crossings was accepted by councillors last week.
Members of Scottish Borders Council’s scrutiny committee were told at last Thursday’s meeting about safety concerns over Clackmae Bridge, near Lauder, and Lowood Bridge, near Galashiels.
A report from Colin Ovens, the local authority’s infrastructure manager, told councillors how, under the 1984 Roads (Scotland) Act, the council is currently responsible for maintaining more than 1,100 bridges and 155 culverts across the region.
Members of the committee agreed to the report’s recommendations to note not only the current process for assessing bridge conditions but also to note the improvements being considered to improve assessments of bridges and their subsequent prioritisation.
The current process for carrying out inspections and planning maintenance works is carried out within the council’s roads asset management plan, approved in 2014.
It is based around a process of inspection, assessment and prioritisation.
The code of practice for management of highway structures, a template for Scottish local authorities, demands that 100% of principal and general inspections of bridges should be carried out on time, every six years and every two years respectively.
To work towards those targets and a regular inspection regime to enhance availability of current data, prioritisation and decision-making, improvements are to be considered.
Lowood Bridge, which carries traffic over the Tweed from Melrose to Galashiels, has also been identified as showing signs of deterioration, including a severe lean on its parapet walls.
Clackmae Bridge, between Lauder and Earlston, has permanent traffic lights in place in a bid to prevent further detioration.
Repair bills could come to as much as £500,000 and £800,000 for Clackmae Bridge and Lowood Bridge respectively, the meeting heard.
Councillors, prior to setting 2017-18 budgets, are due to consider the results of a root-and-branch roads review next month.