A Moray bridge that was damaged by lorry drivers flouting weight restrictions will cost more than £7million to replace.
Defective joints were discovered on Arthur’s Bridge, near Lossiemouth, early last year.
Stricter weight restrictions were imposed on the crossing over the River Lossie in an attempt to preserve the structure from damage from HGVs.
Attempts to protect bridge from HGV damage
Traffic lights have since been installed on the B9103 Lhanbryde road to prevent traffic from using the bridge in both directions – lowering the weigh restriction further from 26-tonne to 7.5-tonne vehicles.
A replacement was initially expected to be needed in 2027/28.
However, now Moray Council has brought forward the £7.1m project by three years amid concerns it is continuing to deteriorate.
Council leader Graham Leadbitter said: “Arthur’s Bridge is a significant route providing important access to Lossiemouth from the east and it takes a significant amount of heavy traffic.
“It’s a reasonably sizeable bridge that is a critical piece of infrastructure in Moray.
“It’s an unfortunate fact that replacing bridges does not come cheap – but it’s of vital importance that this critical connection is maintained.”
Arthur’s Bridge is ‘vital connection’
Arthur’s Bridge was named as a tribute to Arthur Grant-Duff, who erected the initial wooden crossing over the River Lossie in 1850.
The road today is the principal route for Lossiemouth motorists travelling to and from Aberdeen.
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Marc Macrae said: “That bridge has carried substantial commercial traffic over the years.
“Transport infrastructure is something that is vital to be looked after and upgraded at the appropriate time.
“Repairs to Arthur’s Bridge is not something that can really be pushed back because it is such a vital connection for the people who use it.”
A report prepared for a Moray Council full council meeting on Wednesday explained the Arthur’s Bridge works need accelerated due to “the rate of deterioration”.
It adds: “The council’s programme of bridge refurbishments is based on condition surveys and strategic importance, and is kept under review.
“Failing bridges can be life-extended by having weight restrictions placed on them, but this is not always a practical solution, depending on the type of traffic using the bridge and the availability of alternative routes.”
Repairs planned for more bridges
Moray Council’s latest programme of bridge refurbishments include funding the second phase of repairs to the Craigellachie bridge on the A941 Rothes road.
Works totalling £3.7m are due to be done in 2022/23 after an initial project was done last year.
Meanwhile, £160,000 repairs to the Foth’s Bridge on the Elgin to Birnie road are expected to be done in the forthcoming financial year.