Broken bridge: residents call for repairs

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‘A View from the Bridge’ took on a whole new meaning in Peterculter recently when a large stretch of a bridge parapet fell off .

The Rob Roy bridge, on North Deeside Road, has for nearly a century provided a real tourist attraction for visitors since an eight foot high wooden statue of the infamous Highland outlaw was erected on a plinth overlooking the steep cliffs beside the Culter Burn.

Local residents, concerned when barriers erected to cover the Rob Roy bridge parapet gap were mysteriously removed to one side for several days, raised the issue with local councillors, who took it up with ACC’s roads maintenance department.

The original damage to the parapet was, said Aberdeen City Council Structures Engineer Paul Allan, caused by a vehicle last December.

Built in around 1800, it is understood the bridge structure itself is not in good condition.

Mr Allan said: “I am unable to comment as to why the temporary protective barriers have been removed as these were originally erected by the roads maintenance team outwith my capacity as engineer.

‘‘This section of wall is the remit of the roads maintenance team (based in Tullos) to repair as advised after we carried out an initial assessment of the wall damage last December.

“The section of wall should be reinstated to its original condition prior to the vehicle strike but, as stated earlier, this is really the Tullos depot’s remit.”

Regarding the wider issue of repairing the 200-year-old structure, Mr Allan also pointed out that the possibility of Aberdeen City Council’s issuing a CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) to the landowner is a “separate issue” - brought about because he has not been co-operative concerning granting ACC access to the bridge and banks of the steep gorge over which it was built.

Cllr. Aileen Malone said: “The officers have been in discussion with Neil Strachan (ACC estates team), they have also emailed Pamela Burnside (ACC legal dept) for clarification.

‘‘Their understanding is that the landowner has been to date: unreasonable in negotiations and subsequently uncommunicative regarding access through his land.”

This would seem to in some ways contradict a report by the River Dee Trust group in their own negotiations with him - RDT are planning to build a fish pass at the old Culter Dam by the bridge to enable better access for ‘salmonids’ to pass up the burn from the River Dee.

‘‘Their report states that, after site meetings between them, the landowners, SEPA, and a phone conversation with Aberdeen City Council, the outcome was that “Access would be made available” but that the landowners ‘‘wish the south bank...to remain unaffected by any fish pass installation works as there are plans to develop a mini hydro scheme in this general area.”

The protective barriers have now been replaced, but though it is now around five months since the vehicle damage occurred there is still no sign of the parapet being repaired.

Mr Allan said: “There are many road structures and roads which are operated and maintained by the local authority but which are on land owned by others, not us.

‘‘We have full jurisdiction to carry out any works we see fit as and when required upon them as part of this maintenance for as long as they are adopted roads.

‘‘As to when they (Tullos roads depot) have programmed the works.....I am awaiting a timescale from them on when this is likely.