Calls have been made to fast-track repairs to a Moray bridge as concerns are raised about the safety of the alternative route in place.
Moray villagers were told they were facing a five-year wait for bridge repairs at the Foths Burn crossing south of Elgin, near Birnie.
It was shut in November last year after “significant” movement was detected in the stonework.
One year on, residents have said the alternative route is a heavily potholed single lane road being forced to carry a large volume of traffic due to the bridge closure.
In January, the council said it would not have funds available to return it to use until at least the 2024/25 financial year.
The local authority outlined several options costing from £56,000 for minimal repairs to £135,000 for full demolition and replacement.
Now Moray Council has said they are still “not in a position” to bring forward the repairs for Foths Bridge.
A council spokeswoman added: “To do so would unreasonably defer higher priority work, for example repairing bridges on the only public road access to multiple homes and businesses; or those located on a major A or B road critical to the local wider economy; or where there is a diversion of over 20 miles long.
“Foths Bridge lies on a C-class quiet, rural road, with several alternative routes – with the signed diversion route approximately 7 miles in length.
“For the majority of traffic disrupted by the closure, the additional distance to Elgin is around half a mile.
“Therefore, as indicated in our Capital Plan, we must ensure the most critical repairs are undertaken first.”
Chairman of Heldon Community Council, Jim Mountford, said: “This is a priority as I have had a lot of people complaining the alternative routes now have increased traffic and obviously has a negative effect on people living there and on the road surface.
“If you are at the wrong side of the bridge if you want to get to just the other side of the bridge you have to go all the way round.
“In terms of years this is unacceptable for people living there and we are trying everything we know to accelerate the repairs.”
Call for greater urgency
Last night Moray MP Douglas Ross said he is continuing to urge the council to “fast track” bridge repair work.
He added: “Eleven months on and despite several discussions with the council, we are still in the same position with no end in sight.
“Indeed, the situation has worsened with regard to the alternative route which has predictably got far worse because of the increased usage.
“I previously asked the council to consider all alternative options, but there is little evidence that any progress has been made.
“I don’t think it is acceptable for residents to wait for another four or five years to see this bridge repaired.
“We need a greater sense of urgency to fast track this work and get the bridge sorted and the road reopened.”
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Marc Macrae added: “Residents are understandably concerned about this and they do not want to wait until 2024 to see progress on the bridge.”