Wood shortage didn’t close Infirmary Bridge, negligence did

by Colin Campbell

APPARENTLY the council is all fired up and eager to carry out essential repairs to the blocked off and unstable Infirmary Bridge in Inverness but can’t find the wood for the job.

The Infirmary Bridge has been closed indefinitely.

With thousands of people normally crossing the bridge every month this is causing massive inconvenience on our fouled up riverside.

In a statement the council said it “understands and appreciates the frustration that people are feeling with the inconvenience of the bridge closure”.

However, the specially-made deck panels are impossible to source because the raw materials are unattainable.

It could opt for different materials, but those too are hard to find.

The council is “actively seeking materials for the bridge repairs” but said the problems in supply, down to “high demand nationally on DIY-related products for timber decking” are outwith their control.

Well, serious concerns about the bridge were first raised in 2018 by an engineer concerned at what he saw when large numbers of people were crossing the bridge to go to a pop concert.

These concerns weren’t totally ignored. The bridge was closed for these events, so that was something.

But 2018 was three years ago, long before the pandemic arrived to bring shortage of basic materials.

We can assume there was plenty wood around then. If not the council had enough time to cut down an entire forest if they wanted to to stack up all the bridge wood they could possibly require.

The problem that’s led to the indefinite closure of the Infirmary Bridge isn’t lack of wood, it’s been lack of commitment to repair it. Negligence would be a suitable description.

All attention was focused on the hideously unwanted and wasteful Gathering Place 200 yards upriver. The crumbling bridge didn’t get a look in till it was far too late.

It’s a pity there’s not been a national DIY shortage of concrete also to prevent them ruining this once cherished natural riverside beauty spot. It doesn’t look like it, with stacks of slabs piled up on this rubble strewn site, which was due to completed “by early summer”.

Then again, who knows. There must be some reason why this useless, ruinous project already looks about a year behind schedule.

So when will the material be available to begin – just to begin – work on the Infirmary Bridge. I think I’ve got a spare plank or two in the shed. If everyone rallied round it might help.

The council’s “shortages, shortages” excuse could run and run.

It’s just a pity there’s not been a national shortage of plastic as well. It would have stopped them decorating the city centre with unnecessary and disruptive red and white barriers being planted across its length and breadth.

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