Plans for major upgrades at a notorious north-east road junction are being held up by an unsafe bridge, a new report has revealed.
Under proposals for a new grade-separated interchange on the A90 at Laurencekirk, the existing exit at Oatyhill would be blocked off, leaving residents of a number of properties with a single point of access over the 170-year-old Oatyhill railway bridge.
However, a structural assessment of the bridge by Aberdeenshire Council last summer found “serious concerns over the integrity and strength of the structure”, and it was closed to all motor vehicles.
Now a new report to the Aberdeen City Region Deal committee has revealed the closure of the crossing is likely to have an impact on the delivery of the new junction.
Bridge closure ‘has impact on delivery of scheme’
The report, which relates to Scottish Government investment in transport projects in the north-east, reads: “The outcome of Aberdeenshire Council’s structural assessment of Oatyhill Bridge, and specifically its decision to close the bridge as of July 2020 has an impact on the delivery of the Laurencekirk scheme as currently proposed.
“We continue to work closely with Aberdeenshire Council, as the roads authority with responsibility for maintaining the bridge, and other affected parties, to bring forward a resolution to the issue.
“Construction of the scheme itself can only commence if the scheme is approved under the relevant statutory procedures and thereafter a timetable for its progress can be set.”
Council is one of four objectors
The preferred option for the new interchange includes a grade-separated “diamond layout” with a new flyover carrying the A937 over the A90.
There are currently three outstanding objections from nearby landowners, which relate to the compulsory purchase of land and issues over access.
A further objection came from Aberdeenshire Council on the basis that blocking off the existing Oatyhill junction would leave residents with just a single point of access over the now-closed bridge.
The report adds: “We continue to negotiate with these parties with a view to progressing the scheme without the need for a public local inquiry.
“As with all trunk road projects this is the appropriate forum for considering objections received and not withdrawn.”