Council bosses are planning work to save a historic River Dee bridge which was battered by the worst flooding to hit the north-east in living memory.
The B-listed Polhollick Bridge was all but destroyed when Storm Frank wreaked havoc across the region during the winter of 2015.
Melting snow and incessant rain caused the Dee to burst its banks and the ensuing deluge, combined with water coming off flooded fields, caused major damage to 307 homes and 60 businesses in Ballater.
Polhollick Footbridge – which dates back to 1892 and forms part of the Seven Bridges Walk – had only recently been reopened to the public in October 2015 following a £420,000 upgrade, when it was badly damaged.
Now a draft timetable of works has been drawn up by the local authority, which could mean the repairs are completed before the end of the year.
Deeside SNP councillor Geva Blackett welcomed the news and said: “Having just been at the reopening of the Bridge some weeks before, it was heartbreaking to see the damage wrought on this beautiful structure during the ravages of Storm Frank.
“The loss of Polhollick Bridge as part of the Seven Bridges walk in the Ballater area has been keenly felt and I will be delighted to see it back again.”
A council document indicates that a formal listed building application should be submitted by the end of this month, with a works contract awarded two months later before repairs begins in July.
It will be funded by the council and with money from the Scottish Government’s severe weather fund, although the full cost is not yet known.
The Cairngorm National Park Authority (CNPA), has been involved in the process.
Last night councillor Peter Argyle, the CNPA’s board convener, said: “The funding for the Polhollick Bridge project is coming in part from the Council’s Reserves and partly from money received following Storm Frank via the Scottish Government’s Bellwin scheme.”
Repairs are hoped to be completed by the middle of October.
The council has, however, cautioned that the timescales are “simply indicative” and subject to change.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokeswoman said: “These timescales would rely on other elements of the project coming together and it remains too soon to say when works might get underway at Polhollick.”
Further downstream, more signs of recovery are also evident as the Deeside Holiday Park unveiled newly refurbished facilities in time for its 10th birthday.
A spokeswoman for Wood Leisure, which runs the park, said: “We are now fully operational after a very challenging two years.”