After a closure that will eventually have spanned nearly three years, 2022 will finally be the year Lossiemouth is reconnected with its East Beach with the opening of a new bridge.
The closure of the former 100-year-old crossing has struck at the soul of the Moray community since it was shut amidst safety concerns in July 2019.
Waterfront businesses that depended on sun-seekers pounding a trail to the sand were suddenly robbed of a vital income stream.
Now it is hoped the tide will finally change as Lossiemouth prepares to welcome back its link to its beloved sands in 2022.
Bridge will help revive Lossiemouth
Business studies have estimated the connection to the East Beach is worth £1.5million every year to Lossiemouth.
While the crossing has been closed, beach-goers have moved either to the West Beach or to other shores across the region.
Early construction on the £1.8million replacement project has given the community early signs of what the new landmark will look like.
Before the closure, Lossiemouth Community Development Trust was at the forefront of campaigning for the old bridge, which was legally ownerless, to either be repaired or replaced.
Those efforts were brought to a head when the crossing was closed suddenly amid concerns it could collapse.
Rab Forbes, chairman of the trust’s bridge committee, said the sight of the new structure taking shape would be emotional for many in the town.
He said: “It isn’t simply a matter of fact for me to see it being built, but I’m probably too close to it.
“I’ve been speaking about getting the bridge fixed for five years, and particularly in the last two and a half years, there has been a lot of conversations about what is being done.
“To an extent, that doesn’t really matter too much anymore because people will be able to see with their own eyes what is being done.
“The fact that after years of discussions and doubts, by the summer we will be able to go to the beach again on a brand new bridge is hugely welcome.
“It’s great that after all the work from the community that we have that to look forward to, but it’s difficult too because it means moving on from the bridge that people really love.”
How and when will bridge be built?
Lossiemouth residents can already see the beginnings of the new bridge on the Esplanade and in the River Lossie.
A working platform was built in the water in mid-December to allow crews from contractors Beaver Bridges to install the massive support structure.
Crews had to work within tidal windows to get materials and equipment across the River Lossie in vehicles capable of driving through the water.
Meanwhile, the bridge itself is being built at the firm’s Wigan factory and will be transported to the Moray coast in four different sections.
A massive 750-tonne crane will be used to lift the pieces into place with the arm being long enough to reach the necessary 262ft to the beach-side of the river – a task currently expected to be done in April.
Project manager Andy Limbert, who has worked in bridge construction for 15 years, explained the community connection to the bridge has been clear from the start.
He said: “It was obvious from the first meeting we had that it was very much a community-driven project.
“It’s been very nice to be part of, the people working on it have noticed people coming up and asking questions because they are very interested in it.
“The crews have enjoyed being part of that because almost all of them are from the area between Aberdeen and Inverness, so they’re part of it too.
“The biggest challenge has been the River Lossie itself, working out how to get everything across to the other side.
“It’s going to take two days just to set up the crane, it will be a very challenging lift.”