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Park Bridge to remain closed to motorists indefinitely despite ‘baffling’ £750k repair bill

Park Bridge near Drumoak
Park Bridge has been closed to motorists since 2019 and, despite new cash for repairs, there seems to be no plan to reopen it.

Three-quarters of a million pounds is to be spent repairing an important Deeside bridge – but there are no plans to reopen it to cars.

Park Bridge connects the communities of Durris and Drumoak in Aberdeenshire and was closed in February 2019 following an inspection that found defects.

Earlier this month Aberdeenshire Council earmarked £750,000 to restore the structure but only for “active travel”, not motorists.

What problems will this cause?

Ever since it closed two-and-a-half years ago, the Park Bridge Action Group (PBAG), made up of concerned locals, has been campaigning for Aberdeenshire Council to reinstate the crossing.

They say the ongoing eight-mile diversion and lack of maintenance which is pushing the bridge into further disrepair is “intolerable”.

Repairing Park Bridge is going to be a big job.
Alexander Burnett MSP and Andrew Bowie MP have met with campaigners from the Park Bridge Action Group several times to discuss options.

At first glance, the £750,000 allocated to Park Bridge for repairs seemed like a win for the group.

However this is to bring the crossing up to standard for cyclists and pedestrians only, vehicles would still be banned and forced to take the diversion.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett said changing the bridge for active travel alone is contrary to local views.

Together with West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie, Mr Burnett has urged council chiefs to investigate whether “critical” repairs can be done for a much lower figure to reopen it to cars.

Could Park Bridge repairs be done cheaper?

Although the Bridge Decade Investment Plan (BDIP) quotes a £750,000 figure for repairs, the Scottish Conservative politicians have asked for another survey concentrating on cost-effective fixes.

The main focus is a large timber beam which may need replaced. This alone was quoted to cost £150,000 in 2019.

However it is not the cost which is concerning residents. It’s the fact that all this money will be spent and still cars will not be allowed to use the bridge.

Anne Shearer from the Park Bridge Action Group
Anne Shearer is among many residents who say they are “baffled” by the decision to close the bridge indefinitely.

“It is clearly ridiculous to spend that amount of money on Park Bridge and not put it back into service for the local community who are deeply affected both socially and economically by the closure,” said Anne Shearer, a resident who is part of the PBAG.

According to Anne, there has been no engineering justification put forward by the council to explain the closure of the bridge and no structural assessment to confirm that it needs to be closed.

“So far, in spite of asking numerous times, the council have not explained how the proposal to keep Park Bridge closed was arrived at and on what grounds,” she said.

“It is completely baffling.

“We will continue to campaign for the voice of reason to be heard and the bridge re-opened to light traffic.”

A community “split” in half

For Mr Burnett and Mr Bowie, they are not just worried about resident happiness but also say they are “deeply concerned” about the environmental impact of the constant detours.

They estimate 2.2 million kilometres of detours are made every year the bridge remains shut.

“It must be a council priority to ensure that Park Bridge is reopened to vehicular travel and we are deeply concerned that the Drumoak and Durris community has effectively been split with no resolution in sight,” Mr Bowie said.

A spokesperson at Aberdeenshire Council said that the current plan for restorative works on Park Bridge was to maintain its viability as an active travel crossing.

“Any further investment to allow the bridge to be opened to vehicular traffic will require further consideration,” they added.

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