Repairs underway to historic railway footbridge

Roxburgh Viaduct seen from the Borders Abbeys Way.
The footbridge below Roxburgh Viaduct.

A unique footbridge, that is normally suspended from the piers of the Roxburgh railway viaduct in the Scottish Borders, has been removed for refurbishment.

The Roxburgh viaduct formerly carried the St Boswells to Kelso railway branch line over the River Teviot. Built by the North British Railway in 1850, it closed in 1964.

The distinctively curving 13-arch viaduct is among the 3,000+ former railway structures maintained by Highways England Historical Railways Estate (HRE) on behalf of owners, the Department for Transport.

A low-level footbridge normally runs along the bottom of three of the viaduct’s spans, suspended from four of the piers, carrying a footpath – part of a popular and circular walking route along the Border Abbeys Pedestrian Way – over the River Teviot.

Fiona Smith, civil engineer for Highways England HRE, explained: “The suspended pedestrian bridge has been impacted from flooding as well as suffering with general decay and corrosion.

“It is therefore necessary for the structure, which hangs along a picturesque location over the River Teviot, to be sensitively repaired to maintain public safety and for future generations to enjoy.”

The low-level footbridge is suspended off the north side of three of the viaduct’s arches.
Removing one of the footbridge spans
for refurbishment offsite.

The footbridge spans were removed on Thursday and Friday 29/30 October 2020 and taken to a specialist workshop for repair and refurbishment. It is likely that some elements may be replaced entirely, depending on corrosion severity.

New timbers will also be installed across the deck and, once repairs have been completed, the footbridge will be reinstalled from the deck of the listed viaduct.

An environmental management plan will be in place for the duration of the work to ensure the protection of the River Teviot and its ecosystem.

Work will continue until Spring 2021, after which the footbridge will again be open to walkers.

Public access over the footbridge will be diverted across the deck of the disused viaduct itself for the duration of the refurbishment work.

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