Concerns about the safety of children, walking to and from a school in Torphins, have led to Aberdeenshire Councillors backing a plan to close the bridge to vehicle traffic.
They have agreed a trial period for a package of safety measures proposed by the local Community Council, which has been campaigning for more than two years for action to be taken to improve road safety at the bridge.
The area in question is in Bridge Crescent, Torphins and Marr Area Committee Members, meeting at Alford, were told in a Roads Service report that concerns had been raised about children walking to and from Torphins Primary School on a “live carriageway.”
The Community Council had suggested that a section of footpath be installed at the bridge on Bridge Crescent. But this would have required the road width at the bridge to be reduced, on a section that is already narrow.
A series of options was developed by the Roads Service in consultation with the Community Council, all of them including a mandatory, fulltime 20mph speed limit on Bridge Crescent. The report before the meeting involved four options for tackling the problem, with the Roads Service indicating that it supported Option 4.
The report stated : “This option closes the road (at the bridge), creates a turning area for school transport and maintains existing parking. Although it does not provide a footpath, it removes any traffic between the bridge and the school, except for school-related traffic. It therefore provides a safe walking environment for school children.”
However, a letter from Torphins Community Council Roads Liaison Officer, John Lucas, that accompanied the report, said that the Community Council had reacted with “unanimous dismay and surprise” to the recommendations contained in a draft report on the issue. And the Community Council offered what Mr Lucas described as a “simple proposal” that Bridge Crescent be left fundamentally as it is but with the addition of a very minor road alteration and additional signage.
One of the key elements of the proposal is that a weight restriction should be implemented that would help ensure that the road is used only by private cars or school mini buses.
Councillor Rosemary Bruce said that the safety of schoolchildren must be the prime objective and she was happy to go along with the proposals from the Community Council as it offered the best option in terms of safety.
Councillor Jill Webster said that the question of safety on the bridge had been an issue for many years, since she had been Councillor the area. She also said that she would go along with the Community Council’s proposals.
It was agreed to back the Community Council proposals for a trial period of 18 months, during which time safety measures such as the introduction of speed humps could be tried.