Plans to replace Leith’s crumbling rainbow-coloured ‘pride bridge’ are to be pushed forward by the council, despite concerns about the possible cost of over £1m.
The Lindsay Road bridge was closed in 2021 to prepare it for demolition, after the council deemed it “an immediate health and safety risk”.
The pedestrianised crossing has become an ‘LGBT landmark’ since it was painted by locals, whilst the adjacent Dreadnought pub previously used the space as a beer garden.
A community campaign led by the bar has put pressure on the council to save the structure from being torn down.
But bridge boss Cliff Hutt said it is “at the end of its design life”.
“Yes we have got problems with span one but in the very very near future, and I’m talking within the next 12 to 24 months we’re going to have problems with the other two spans as well including the parapets, they are corroded,” the council’s transport infrastructure manager added.
Campaigners have favoured an ‘infilling’ solution where concrete would be used to support and retain the deck. However, despite this being the cheapest of three options set out in a report, officials said it would not be appropriate.
Instead councillors on the transport committee unanimously agreed to progress the construction of a new deck. It’s proposed this would be wider at the southern end by the pub and narrower over the other two spans.
A report said: “The wider span could be utilised as a public seating or community space whilst facilitating a pedestrian travel link over the Hawthornvale path.”
However only £459k is currently budgeted and another £1.2m is needed to fund construction of the new link.
The council has applied for additional Government funding but said if no extra cash is secured in time for this winter then the deck will have to be removed “to ensure public safety”.
Paul Lawrence, executive director of place, said: “If none of those [bids] are successful in time then the only funding for this project is the funding already allocated by the council.
“So if a decision has to be made on the safety of this structure and the external funding is not in place then the money set out in the report is the money we have.”
The committee agreed to undertake a feasibility study to explore “alternative value-engineered deck configurations” including options to form embankments to support the bridge and “preserve and refurbish some or all of the existing structure”.
Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, said: “It is absolutely clear this bridge is more than just a transport corridor: it serves as a community space and a cultural landmark for the LGBT+ community as well.
“There’s lots of hard work ahead for the council to co produce a design alongside the community, which meets all of those three key elements of the bridge.
“Today’s decision is more than just another stay of execution for the bridge: it is a statement of intent to work together on something that delivers for LGBT+ folk as well as the local community.”
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