The Leamington Lift Bridge received a festive windfall thanks to £350,000 awarded through Sustrans Scotland’s National Cycle Network Development Programme, funded by the Scottish Government, which will secure this vital part of the National Cycle Network.
The historic structure, which spans The Union Canal at Edinburgh Quay, was identified as an operational risk in September and was then closed to boating traffic and restricted to pedestrians and cyclists.
Funding will preserve the existing structure of this 122-year old lift bridge, which is popular with walkers, cyclists and commuters, with works beginning in early 2019 and scheduled to complete by the summer.
The works will include upgrading the lifting mechanism and creating alternative pedestrian access across the canal while the bridge is closed to public access.
Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals, said:
Thanks to Sustrans, this valuable heritage structure will continue to be used by walkers,cyclists and commuters for many years to come and today’s announcement is testament to the excellent partnership we have with them.
Edinburgh Quay is an important tourist destination which contributes significantly to the local economy and the canal and its assets area vital part of what makes it attractive to visitors, residents, businesses and leisure users.
The towpath will remain open throughout the works and boats moored in the basin will get an opportunity to move through the bridge. Although the pedestrian access across the bridge may need to close at some point during the works, Scottish Canals will create an alternative route which spans the canal.
Tom Bishop, Head of Network Development at Sustrans Scotland, said:
We are delighted to be working with our close partners at Scottish Canals to facilitate these works through the National Cycle Network development fund.
National Cycle Network Routes 75 and 754 are vital links for commuters and visitors to Edinburgh alike, and this programme of repairs to the Leamington Lift Bridge will ensure that this well-loved section of the Union Canal remains a vibrant and inviting place to walk and cycle.
EdinburghCanal Champion Cllr Gavin Corbett said:
I am delighted and relieved at this news. For many, the lift bridge is the most significant symbol of the canal’s industrial past and of the ambitious plans to create a new canal side community at Fountainbridge. To have lost the lift bridge as the Union Canal approaches its bicentenary in 2022 would have been unthinkable.
I know the work needed is significant and painstaking and it will involve some disruption. But a long term future for the bridge will make it worthwhile.