Published: Tuesday, 3rd April 2018
A £640k major repair and strengthening programme on the historic Lowood Bridge between Galashiels and Melrose is underway.
The project is in its final stages and remains on schedule to be completed by 18 June 2018, which is in time for Melrose Festival Week.
The temporary scaffolding has been removed, which means works on the bridge deck area can start.
Repairs to the bridge's stonework has been completed, as well as resurfacing of the Waverley Road/Lowood Road junction. New electrical cabling for the traffic light system upgrade has been installed and kerbing work started at the Galashiels side of the bridge.
Kerbing, drainage and surfacing of the bridge deck will now be completed, alongside stone repair and pointing to the wingwalls on the Galashiels side of the bridge, while traffic light system is to be completed.
An exact opening date will be announced next week.
We continue to appreciate the patience of motorists, local people and businesses during the closure and we are working to open the bridge as soon as possible.
Good progress was made throughout April on the masonry works which means the project is on schedule to be complete for the Melrose Festival in mid-June 2018.
Work will now start on removing the scaffolding and encapsulation. This is a complex task and will require the use of large cranes.
As the scaffolding comes down, the bridge deck will be cleared to allow for drainage, kerbing and surfacing works to start. Work on an upgrade of the existing traffic light system will also continue. In addition to the works on the main bridge, some repair work is being undertaken to the masonry wingwalls that lead onto the bridge.
While the bridge works are on-going, the opportunity to undertake additional surfacing work is also being taken. During the week commencing 14 May, the junction area on Waverley Road (into Melrose) where it meets the B6374 road (down to Lowood) will be resurfaced. This work will take a few days to complete under traffic lights and minor delays may be experienced.
All local businesses remain open and we thank the Borders public for their continued patience and co-operation during the project.
The complex scaffolding works are now complete and the temporary scaffold structure has been wrapped in protective plastic sheeting. This protection shields the works area from the worst of the weather and helps to maintain a suitable temperature for the masonry works.
The A6091/BGH improvement works by Amey was completed on Wednesday 4 April. These improvements will make the junction safer, and the completion of the scheme will reduce traffic congestion while the Lowood Bridge works continue.
The first stage of the project was to establish a safe and secure means of access via scaffolding.
We appreciate that the closure of Lowood Bridge has a significant impact on traffic and pedestrians in the local area. However, once these essential works are completed, weight restrictions will be removed and the bridge will once again be available for use by all vehicles and pedestrians for many years to come.
Lowood Bridge has now closed for 20 weeks to all traffic and pedestrians. Despite the closure, local businesses remain open and accessible via signed diversion – for example pedestrians walking from the Borders Railway via the Melrose side of the River Tweed can use the Chain Bridge to get to Gattonside.
The bridge will be closed to all traffic and pedestrians during this time. Once completed, all vehicles and pedestrians will be able to use the bridge again.
Diversions signs will be in place, with the alternative route via the A6091, A7 through Galashiels and B6374 road. Pedestrians can use the Chain Bridge at Gattonside as an alternative route.
Buses will be affected. The following 60 service departures by Borders Buses from the Galashiels Transport Interchange, Monday to Saturday, will operate via Langlee, Winston Road, Tweed Road, Kingsknowes Roundabout for A6091 to BGH and normal route:
- Service 60 (Monday to Friday) - 5.15am, 6.15am, 7.37am and 8am, Saturday - 6.30am
In addition, the 8am service from Galashiels will leave five minutes earlier on schooldays at 7.55am, calling at Langlee at 8am
- Service 67 (Monday to Saturday) – the 7am service will leave Galashiels five minutes earlier at 6.55am, calling at Langlee at 7am
All other 60 and 67 departures from Galashiels will operate direct from the Transport Interchange via Abbotsford Road, Kingsknowes Roundabout, Tweedbank Industrial Estate for A6091 to BGH for normal route.
Services 60, 67 and 68 from Melrose to Galashiels will operate direct from BGH to Kingsknowes Roundabout, Abbotsford Road and Currie Road to the Transport Interchange. Buses will call at Tweedbank Industrial Estate on request to the driver by passengers.
Service 61 - will operate via Tweedbank and Langlee when travelling to Galashiels on request to the driver by passengers.
Service 71 - will operate from Melrose Gait via Winston Road, Tweed Road, Kingsknowes Roundabout for A6091 to BGH to Melrose in both directions all day.
Service 313 - will operate from BGH to Kingsknowes Roundabout, Tweed Road and Winston Road for normal route to Galashiels.
Earlston High School E01 service - will serve Darnick before calling at Gattonside both morning and afternoon.
A temporary bus stop at Winston Road has also been added for use during the Lowood Bridge closure.
What is the history of the bridge?
Lowood Bridge is a B-listed masonry arch bridge, built some 250 years ago.
It spans the River Tweed on the B6374 Galashiels to Melrose road and is a vital transport link for the surrounding area and carries around 5k vehicles per day.
What issues have been identified?
A structural inspection of the bridge identified a number of areas requiring repair works including:
- rebuilding the bridge parapet walls
- installing steel anchors into the bridge
- scour protection works on the central pier
- fixing other masonry defects on the main part of bridge structure
Have you considered other roadworks and local events?
Yes, these have been taken into account, including:
- Melrose Festival
- A6091 Galafoot Bridge - these works by trunk road operator Amey will take place later in 2018 in order not to clash with the Lowood Bridge works
- A6091 Borders General Hospital junction improvement - Amey are due to begin works on 5 February 2018 for six weeks using temporary traffic lights
Along with Amey, we will be monitoring traffic flows during these works.
Has there been work carried out before on the bridge?
As a first step to address issues with the bridge, a precautionary 26 tonne weight limit was introduced in spring 2017.
Emergency works were carried out in December 2017 to allow works to the parapet walls to be carried out safely.
The bridge was closed to all traffic and pedestrians from 4 December 2017 and the parapet walls were carefully taken down with the suitable stone set aside and stored for re-use. These works were completed on 13 December, ahead of schedule. To replace the parapets, a concrete barrier system was put in place along with additional vehicle restrictions:
- weight limit reduced to 7.5tonnes
- width restriction of no more than 2.5m
- speed limit of 20mph
- no pedestrian access
The bridge was opened to cars and light vehicles and this helped alleviate traffic congestion on other roads in and around the area over the busy Christmas holiday period.
How long will it now take getting in and out of Galashiels?
There will be delays but we would ask local people and commuters to give themselves a bit extra time for their journeys during the repair and strengthening works to the bridge, which will ensure this vital transport link can be used for many years to come.
What if I have further questions?
Please contact our Place Projects team if you have more questions.