Aberdeenshire’s crumbling bridges are “one of the biggest challenges” facing the region it was claimed yesterday amid calls for additional investment.
The local authority is responsible for some 1,295 bridges, some of them listed, but has long struggled to finds funds to fix them.
At a meeting on Thursday, councillors are expected to decide not to replace six bridges in the King Edward area.
With a bridges and structure backlog of £100 million, it has been decided that “there is currently no available funding within this programme of work for the six
King Edward area bridges.”
But at a meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee yesterday, Mearns councillor Leigh Wilson made a plea for more council funds to be spent on the vital crossings.
He said it would be faced with few bigger challenges in the years to come and had “an obligation” to protect historic bridges from crumbling into riverbeds.
Gorrachie residents last December, protesting about the lack of work at the bridgeAt yesterday’s meeting, Mearns councillor Leigh Wilson said too little council funds were going towards bridge repair.
Mr Wilson said: “We can’t look at the bridges alone in isolation, these issues have a wider impact on people’s livelihoods and on communities.
“The state of our bridges is one of the most serious things that we, as a council, will have to deal with in the next few years.
“Our current budget allocation target is 37.6%, but we are sitting at 5%.”
Meanwhile Wendy Agnew, who represents Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, highlighted the plight of the Park Bridge during the discussion.
She said: “There are multiple bridges that communities rely on, including the Park Bridge.
“It is a listed bridge and we have an obligation to protect it from falling into the River Dee.”
The report issued to councillors had stated: “The budget available for bridge works does not cover the full cost of all works to be carried out, so work has to be prioritised to fit within the available budget.
“Prioritisation of bridge works within the 2018/2019 available budget was undertaken on an Aberdeenshire-wide basis, taking into account road network criticality, bridge size, individual bridge maintenance condition and remaining structural load carrying capacity.”
For years, the Scottish Government have been urged to intervene and help save the north-east vital’s transport links.
But yesterday, councillor Sandy Wallace said: “The SNP aren’t going to fix this. They exist for one goal, which surrounds the word freedom, and until then issues like bridges and flooding in the north-east will not be addressed.”
Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Andrew Bowie, said: “In my constituency alone, more money needs spent on bridges than are in the council’s coffers.
“But funding for Aberdeenshire is so tight, the backlog is beyond fixing.
“That is why I have approached the SNP government for a financial solution to the issue.
“Thanks to investment by the UK Government, Scotland will have a substantially higher block grant this year.
“It is within their power to grant Aberdeenshire a fair deal to reconnect communities and boost the local economy.”