Plans to build a footbridge linking Banff and Madcuff have taken a step forward with the launch of a £70,000 study into the possible crossing.
Councillors in the area last year voted to look into the feasibility of the structure, which is designed to encourage people to walk and cycle between the two communities.
It has now been confirmed that engineering firm Aecom has been commissioned by the authority and transport body Nestrans to carry out a research project.
The study will build on the information previously collected during similar efforts in 2008 and 2016, including an assessment of location options, engagement with the public and preparation of drawings showing how it could be formed.
Banff councillor Glen Reynolds was pleased there was progress with the town’s “gateway to the region” and said the study shows there is “political will and determination” for something to be done despite there not yet being the funds.
He said: “Firstly, we must ensure that the right partnership consultations take place to ensure that the capital funds are in place to resource this.
“That is not the case at the moment but this study is a good first step to reaching the ultimate goal.”
The existing road bridge that crosses the River Deveron was built in 1779 by engineer John Smeaton.
It carries the main coastal road between Inverness and Aberdeen, and for years there have been suggestions to alter the existing bridge, build a pedestrian one or construct a replacement road bridge
Richard Menard, chairman of the Banff and Macduff Safety Group, is glad things are progressing but believes more needs to be done.
He said: “It’s a step forward and is a good idea but ideally we need to future proof the road bridge and have a safe pedestrian option.
“We could utilise the wonderful road bridge that we’ve already got as a pedestrian and cyclist one, and go forward with a proper road bridge which can withstand the climate change and erosion.
“Having this study is a good idea but it’s not going to provide the long-term solution to the problem of us having a road bridge which isn’t wide enough and is weathering.”