Fears have been raised that Moray’s crumbling bridges could be left to deteriorate further without a massive funding boost.
A report compiled by council engineers has graded 72 of the 375 crossings the authority is responsible for as either “very poor” or “poor”.
The RAC Foundation recently ranked the region as having the ninth-worst total of substandard bridges in Scotland during 2017/18 amid warnings the cost of repairing them will only continue to mount.
Today, councillors will meet to agree a maintenance programme to fix damaged and worn structures across the region.
However, concerns have been raised that the proposed schedule will only be able to fund work on just 12 of the 72 bridges ranked as either “very poor” or “poor”.
Yesterday, Conservative councillors claimed that only a better funding deal for the region by the Scottish Government could help address all the faults.
Forres member Claire Feaver said: “We are committed to spending nearly £2million on the new Craigellachie Bridge, which is obviously important as it is a lifeline route for the whisky industry – but that means there is next to nothing left for all the other bridges.
“Of the 72 bridges in Moray which are rated very poor or poor it appears that only seven are in the revenue programme for this year and five in the capital programme.”
Meanwhile, Elgin City North councillor Maria McLean warned that repeating cuts to the council’s road maintenance budget for this year, which was approved unanimously, could have “serious long-term consequences”.
Figures compiled by council officers also showed that 52% of Moray’s bridges are in “excellent” condition.
Repairs proposed for this year include a £1.8million four-month project on the A941 Craigellachie Bridge to resurface the road and pavement as well faults with the structure.
Two projects valued at a combined £230,000 are also planned at Arthur’s Bridge on the B9103 Sheriffston to Lossiemouth road and the B9136 Glenlivet Bridge.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly stressed that it is the responsibility of council’s to balance their own budget while explaining that any new funding deal must be collectively agreed by all authorities.
In a report, senior bridges engineer Daniel Preston said the proposed maintenance programme attempted to take account of the area’s economic needs and the requirement to maintain roads “as far as practicable” while using a “risk-based” approach.