Plans to replace an 18th century bridge that forms a key link between Aberdeenshire and Moray but has been plagued for years by closures and structural problems have taken another step forward.
The famously humpbacked Gairnshiel Bridge is an integral part of the A939 Ballater to Tomintoul road but has frequently been shut in recent years due to concerns over stability and issues caused by motorists damaging its fragile structure.
Although a strict 18-tonne weight limit is in place, drivers of large and heavy vehicles such as lorries and some buses have ignored the rules for years, putting strain on the historic crossing of the River Gairn, which was never built to deal with modern traffic.
In 2018, Aberdeenshire Council confirmed a new bridge would be built to the east of the existing one in order to preserve the existing Gairnshiel Bridge for future generations.
Last December a public contract for structural design services for a new crossing, worth as much as £213,982, was awarded by the council to the Glasgow-based Arcadis Consulting.
And now, Aberdeenshire Council has put forward an application to fell 22 trees at the site, in order to make way for the new bridge and associated roads.
A report by Graeme Fisher, structures engineer at Aberdeenshire Council, reads: “It was recognised that the new crossing is at the most appropriate point and the simplicity and low profile of the bridge design ensures it does not appear to be prominent or compete with the listed bridge, while reflecting some of the qualities of the original.”
Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Geva Blackett campaigned for a replacement bridge to be put in place and welcomed the progress being made.
Mrs Blackett said: “I am delighted to see progress continuing towards a new bridge in this location.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the actual bridge designs in due course.”