East Ayrshire Council have had to fork out almost £100,000 to repair a Newmilns railway bridge it didn’t know it was responsible for.
A new report revealed that the cost of work at the former rail bridge at Stoneygate Road, Newmilns had increased by more than 160%, rising from an original £38,000 to £99,000.
It was one of three bridge repair contracts which increased by more than 10%.
The others were Galston to Newmilns Cyclepath and the Victoria Bridge in Kilmarnock.
The projects are being considered by the cabinet on Wednesday, as any increases of more than 10% require officers to provide a justification for additional funds.
A number of factors were reported to have increased the contract to realign a 350m section of the River Irvine which was threatening to cut the cyclepath between Galston and Newmilns.
The cabinet report said: “The requirement for SEPA Licences, treatment of invasive weeds and dealing with nesting birds complicated aspects of the works.
“Unfortunately, just after the river works were completed a very high flood event occurred which partially damaged a section of the recently installed works.”
The repair work then had to wait until last summer as fish spawning season meant it would not be permitted.
The original contract for £241,000 was subsequently increased to £326,500 – a 35% rise.
The largest project of the three was the refurbishment of the Victoria Bridge in Kilmarnock.
One of the issues which arose during the refurbishment was the discovery that the paint on the bridge contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a substance that is classed as hazardous.
The council agreed that the only way to dispose of the material was by incineration at a very high temperature.
However, this method was only available at one UK facility, which required the debris to to be placed in sealed drums and delivered for incineration.
The report added: “The additional costs associated with the disposal of the paint waste were significant at £85,454.10.
“It should be noted that neither Ayrshire Roads Alliance, nor the contractor, nor their painting subcontractor had ever heard of PCB’s in a paint system.
“Hence, the reason it was not checked for at the design stage.”
A number of additional jobs and changes also increased costs.
The report explained: “The project was extremely complex and challenging both during the design process and undertaking the works on site but the refurbishment has hopefully increased the future service life of the bridge on what is an important route into the town centre.
While no final cost is in place, it is estimated to be around £900,000, around £175,000 higher than the original £725,000 contract, an increase of approximately 25%.
The report also provided background on the former rail bridge at Newmilns, which is owned by EAC.
It stated “ARA were asked to carry out an emergency closure of this bridge in August 2021 following concerns being raised by a member of the public as to its condition.
“It is a former rail bridge and access below the bridge is taken by walkers and farm vehicles.
“The bridge was not identified on ARA’s Structures Database as it is not related to a public road.
“Investigation revealed ownership of the former rail bridge resides with the council. ARA took action to close the private road below and prepared a repair package involving demolition of the widened section of the bridge which comprised steelwork in very poor condition.
“However, it became clear that major refurbishment works to the masonry wingwalls were required, which was not obvious prior to site clearance.
This increased the contract cost by 161% percent, from £38,000 to £99,500.
The report will be considered by the cabinet on Wednesday, February 15.
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