Hundreds of campaigners have had their hopes dashed as council officials have insisted on keeping a bridge linking two rural communities closed to cars.
Park Bridge, which links Drumoak and Durris across the River Dee, has only been open to pedestrians or cyclists since 2019 after a routine inspection discovered major structural issues.
The category A-listed structure, which was built in 1854, has been closed off ever since, forcing anyone driving to deal with a lengthy diversion to travel between the two areas.
Many locals have been calling for the council to reopen the crossing, with more than 350 people signing a petition appealing for vehicles of up to three tonnes to be allowed to use it.
Councillors asked for a report from officers on the possibility, who concluded that the preferred approach is to keep the status quo and carry out only appropriate maintenance.
In the report, which will be considered by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee next week, officers outlined the four potential options for the future of Park Bridge.
The first option, to allow light traffic, would come with the “relatively high cost” of £1.52 million, and an extra £830,000 spent on improving the structure within five years of the initial work.
Option two, to install new decking and permanent measures to restrict vehicles, would mean Park Bridge would only be used by pedestrians and cyclists, as it is now, and would cost £580,000 over three years, with an initial £35,000 cost for installing the permanent measures.
The third option, for permanent closure to everything but allowing water and telecommunication services to use the bridge, would be £250,000 over the next five years, and an initial spend of £40,000 to stop any pedestrians, cyclists or motorists from using it.
Option four – the idea of creating an entirely new bridge upstream of the existing crossing, with capacity for all kinds of traffic – comes with a £12.4m price tag, as well as other costs for land purchase and maintaining the existing structure.
The report stated: “The best course of action for Park Bridge is for the bridge to remain closed to vehicular traffic, with a view to carrying out appropriate remedial work so as to maintain use for pedestrians and cyclists only, and to conserve the bridge for future generations.”
Andrew Bowie, the Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine said: “The division of Drumoak and Durris has undoubtedly had an impact on the community.”
Anne Shearer, of the Park Bridge Action Group, last month said: “It really is a vital link in the community and we believe the council has underestimated the impact this closure has had.”