Snow Road tourists face 25-mile detour as two bridges close for emergency repairs

The Gairnshiel Bridge regularly suffers damage from being hit by vehicles.

Motorists travelling on the Snow Road tourist route can expect weeks of delays and a 24-mile detour when emergency works to repair two historic bridges begins.

The Gairnshiel and Milton Bridges on the A939 Ballater to Tomintoul road are both in need of vital repairs.

The parapet on the Gairnshiel Bridge regularly needs to be rebuilt after being knocked off by large vehicles negotiating the sharp corner at the north end of the structure.

Damaged stonework on the Milton Bridge will be taken down and rebuilt which will also be strengthened with concrete backing the old masonry arch.

The entire stretch of the Bridge of Gairn to Gairnshiel Lodge through Glen Gairn Road will be closed as will the Gairnshiel Bridge where the road forks towards Cock Bridge.

The closures will begin on Monday, May 14 and are expected to last for three weeks.

Motorists will be diverted along a 24-mile route onto the A93 Balmoral to Dinnet Road and also the A97 Dinnet to Donside through Strathdon to continue their journey to Tomintoul.

Deeside councillor Geva Blackett has been working closely with the council’s road department to ensure “sufficient signage” is in place and has been campaigning for heavy good vehicles to avoid the route.

She said: “It’s important that we get the proper signage in place as it could prove very confusing for tourists.

“Closing these bridges means pain for people.

“But hopefully this round of repairs will enable the Gairnshiel Bridge to continue to sustain vehicular weights below the 18 tonne limit until the options for a permanent solution are agreed and in place.”

The repairs to the bridges had been delayed due to fears it would clash with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Weekend due to begin on May 3.

The authority decided to reschedule the works to avoid putting off potential tourists and will be repairing the weather-damaged road at the same time.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Bridges manager, Donald Macpherson, said: “Hopefully this will also mean the road doesn’t have to be closed for repairs later in the year.

“Given this work has to take place in better weather, we’re doing it at the earliest opportunity to minimise the impact on tourist traffic, hopefully ensuring the road remains open in the peak summer season.”

The council said the bridge has continued to deteriorate and structural capacity continues to be an issue. An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “The council has written to over 20 bus tour companies to make them aware of the weight restriction.”

Details of road closures and restrictions in Aberdeenshire can be seen here.