More than £1 million has now been spent on fixing the Aberdeenshire bridges worst-hit by Storm Frank – and the final historic crossing in line for repair could cost an extra £400,000.
Following the severe flooding all across the north-east in late December 2015, the 14 most severely damaged bridges were closed for the public’s safety.
The vast majority were reopened within the months of the disastrous storm, though a number required significant repairs.
The exception of Shattenweg near Rothienorman, which did not reopen until February 2017; Roo-Emah near Fyvie, which reopened in April 2018; and Polhollick near Ballater, which was closed until December.
Just one of the 14 crossings is still to reopen, but with “no timescale” to commence the work and a price tag of up to £400,000, the B-listed iron suspension bridge at Cambus O’May will not be fixed in the near future.
Upper Deeside councillor Peter Argyle, who is also the chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee, nonetheless said the authority is “determined” to restore the historic river crossing to its former glory.
The white-painted footbridge was built in 1905 and re-opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1988 following extensive refurbishment programme.
Mr Argyle said: “There’s a close similarity between Polhollick bridge and the one at Cambus O’May, as they’re both cast iron suspension bridges of a similar vintage.
“Our bridge teams learned a lot from the repair of Polhollick, but Cambus O’ May is in a much worse state as the damage was much more severe.
“It’s actually unbelievable to think back on just how bad the storm was.
“When you look back at the footage of the river battering the bridge, you just can’t believe that the waters could have reached that height.”
He added: “What the council is doing at the moment is applying the same approach taken at Polhollick to Cambus O’May with a view of getting it repaired.”
“The problem is of course one of money.
“It’s expected to cost around £400,000 to repair, which we don’t have sitting around in the bank.
“Our finance people are looking at ways of getting money to pay for it, and at the same time our bridge teams are assessing the best approach for repairs, because of course it is an enormously complicated task.
“There’s no timescale on this at the moment, but I can reassure everybody that the council is determined to get the bridge repaired as soon as possible.”