Bridge damage forces route closure

A popular tourist route through the Cairngorm National Park in Aberdeenshire will be forced to close this week, to allow essential repairs to a bridge.

According to an Aberdeenshire Council spokesman, Milton Bridge was badly damaged in a serious road traffic collision on Sunday, May 27, just weeks after refurbishment to nearby Gairnshiel Bridge had been completed.

“Both bridge parapets are badly damaged and due to the narrow road width, it is not possible to carry out the works without a full closure of the A939 Gairnshiel to Bridge of Gairn road,” he said.

The council is currently seeking to recoup the cost of the work from the responsible driver’s insurers.

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of roads and landscape services, Philip McKay said: “It is unfortunate this accident occurred, but it has happened and the repairs we have planned are therefore essential.

“After working hard to complete the Gairnshiel Bridge work ahead of schedule to minimise disruption to visitors, businesses and local residents, it is disappointing that a further closure is required so soon.

“We will, however, be carrying out the repairs ourselves and will endeavour to complete the work as efficiently and as quickly as possible.

“We know closures on rural tourist routes such as this can cause inconvenience and disruption, but the bridge has to be repaired and unfortunately this is the only viable way to do it.”

The work to the bridge will ensure the safety of road users and construction was due to begin on Thursday, May 31.

The council will deploy additional resources to ensure the works are completed as quickly as possible, with an expected completion date of Friday, June 8.

Aberdeenshire Council’s £100,000 refurbishment of the historic Gairnshiel Bridge, near Ballater, was completed more than three weeks ahead of schedule and the A939 Gairnshiel to Colnabaichen road reopened to traffic on Friday, May 4.

Repairs to the A-listed bridge, built in 1751 over the River Gairn, were carried out by Aberdeenshire Council’s in-house construction section, who will also complete the works on the Milton Bridge. Diversions on the A93, A97 and A944 will be signed.