April date for bust canal bridges to reopen

The Bonnybridge Millennium Canal Bridge.
The Bonnybridge Millennium Canal Bridge.

Scottish Canals is to use part of a Scottish Government cash boost to fix two broken local canal bridges - but they won’t be open until April next year.

Boat transits through the Bonnybridge and Twechar lift bridges on the Forth and Clyde Canal are suspended because of outstanding repairs - fuelling complaints from pressure group Keep Canals Alive! that the original aim of canal restoration is being badly compromised.

Scottish Canals, in a detailed strategy document, recently argued that it has to carefully prioritise repairs and maintenance projects on its sprawling natiion-wide network, and that public safety is always the key concern.

The Scottish Government has since answered canal users’ concerns with a grant of £1.625m of additional funding, and part of that cash will be used to repair the local bridges.

Contractors have been hired and work is scheduled for January into February next year, with testing of both bridges set to begin in March.

The aim is to have all work completed and both bridges operational by April.

Meanwhile Scottish Canals will be pressing ahead with vital work on embankments on the Union Canal at Linlithgow this year.

The first phase will involve installing 160 metres of sheet piling between Bridge 45 next to Linlithgow Academy at Preston Road and Bridge 48 at Woodcockdale.

Work will begin on November 5 and last for 14 weeks, during which the towpath will be closed to allow plant and machinery to access the canal bank.

A towpath diversion will be in place for pedestrians and cyclists during the work period, which also includes the two weeks over Christmas and New Year.

Navigation will be closed from Thursday, November 8, to enable a partial dewatering of the canal as the channel will be closed by dam structures at both Preston Road Bridge no45 and Woodcockdale bridge no48.

Beside strengthening the canal embankment, the work will also create eight new, fully serviced, moorings in the area for which full planning permission has been granted.