The future of the historic Union Chain Bridge over the River Tweed seems assured.
The suspension Bridge, which carries traffic and pedestrians between Fishwick in Berwickshire and Horncliffe in Northumberland, has been beset by structural problems for many years, raising fears it could close permanently before celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2020.
The Berwickshire News can reveal that £500,000 has been included in Scottish Borders Council’s new capital programme for the next three financial years as a contribution to the structure’s complete restoration – estimated to cost £4.7m.
This matches a similar capital commitment from Northumberland County Council, which has joint jurisdiction for the bridge.
The consensus clears the way for the project to be eligible for major grant investment from bodies such as English Heritage, Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It is a year since councillors at Newtown were told the bridge required a new chain suspension hanger system to be developed and fitted, substantial deck replacement and upgrading of the existing parapets.
But until now, cash-strapped SBC had made no allocation in any of its spending programmes to help finance the restoration.
The decision has been linked to a much newer project – the controversial creation of a visitor centre for the Great Tapestry of Scotland 36 miles away in Tweedbank near Galashiels.
Last month, SBC voted 21-10 to spend £3.5m on that facility close to the new rail terminus, the borrowing repayable at £208,000 a year for 30 years.
The council is due to ratify its capital programme on February 12.