An Aberdeenshire community has threatened to take legal action after more than a year of campaigning for a bridge to be reopened to vehicles.
Park Bridge, which carries the C35K road over the River Dee, was built in 1854 and connects the two communities of Durris and Drumoak, which lie on either side of the river.
But last February, Aberdeenshire Council closed it to motorists after major defects were discovered during a routine inspection.
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As a result, drivers have had to deal with an eight-mile diversion.
The Park Bridge Action Group (PBAG) was established to press the council into reinstating the crossing fully but, despite a petition with more than 1,100 people asking for it to be saved, no progress has yet been made.
And at next week’s Kincardine and Mearns area committee meeting, councillors are poised to extend a road closure order on the bridge beyond its original expiration date of September 14.
The PBAG, formed by members of the community with engineering, business, legal and agricultural backgrounds, has now told the council it is focusing on “legal solutions” to get the crossing back to normal.
A statement from the directors of the group said: “The evidence provided by inspection reports conducted between 2011 and 2019 indicates that Aberdeenshire Council has failed to implement specific recommendations to maintain and repair the bridge in breach of its statutory duty.
“The 2011 report stated that the bridge was in ‘good condition subject to minor anomalies’, but a clear warning was given that the bridge’s timber deck faced deterioration unless a water-proofing system was installed.
“Only eight years later, the bridge was closed due to concerns about deterioration of the timber deck and corrosion of the underlying steel transverse beams.
“However, we firmly believe that Park Bridge is not yet beyond economic repair and reinstatement, and we note successful community efforts elsewhere in Britain to have old bridges refurbished and reopened.
“Our position is that a public consultation exercise on the future of Park Bridge was conducted in September 2019 by Aberdeenshire Council, which resulted in 85% support from respondents in favour of the reinstatement of the bridge for vehicular use.
“We believe that this remains the objective of our community.
“Given the failure of the consultation process and the efforts of elected representatives on behalf of the community, the council has been advised that Park Bridge Action Group will now focus on legal solutions.”
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “We have engaged extensively on this issue and dialogue continues between ourselves and Crathes, Drumoak and Durris Community Council on the long-term future of Park Bridge.
“Meantime, the council is seeking to introduce a new traffic regulation order to replace the temporary order which ends in September, however this in no way signifies any decision having been taken on the future of the bridge.”