Steer clear of Gairnshiel Bridge!

Councillor Geva Blackett is calling on HGV drivers to avoid using the bridge
Councillor Geva Blackett is calling on HGV drivers to avoid using the bridge

A local politician is urging HGV drivers to avoid using a historic Deeside landmark.

Councillor Geva Blackett is concerned at the damage being caused by lorries to Gairnshiel Bridge.

The A-listed structure on the A939 has a weight restriction but Mrs Blackett claims this is being ignored by the trucks.

She is now appealing to drivers of vehicles over 18 tonnes to stop using the bridge near Ballater in order to safeguard it.

The SNP councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside said: “This beautiful A-listed bridge has a weight limit imposed which is sadly being ignored by drivers and consequently is constantly being badly damaged.

“My worry is that one day the cumulative damage will be so great the council will have no alternative but to close the road to allow for urgent structural repairs.”

She added: “As the bridge is on the Snow Road and the North East 250 routes, closure would have a huge economic impact on businesses throughout the region and cause major inconvenience to drivers who will be forced to take a 40-mile detour from the A93 back on to the A939 going north and vice versa.

“I would ask those drivers to please stop using this bridge because their actions are extremely destructive.”

Councillor Blackett has been a long-term advocate of a new bridge in the area to ensure the sustainability of tourism traffic.

In April last year, Councillor Blackett issued a plea for urgent action to save the landmark, due to its deteriorating condition.

She called for a “functional” bridge to be built adjacent to it.

Mrs Blackett has written to Jane Ryder, chair of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), to highlight the issue of heavy lorries and the damage being caused to the ancient bridge.

An HES spokesperson told the Piper this week they would welcome involvement in any discussions to safeguard the landmark.

The spokesperson said: “We are aware of the longstanding problem of larger vehicles using this 18th century single-arch bridge.

“We would welcome the opportunity to contribute to discussions with the council and Cairngorms National Park Authority on any options or appraisal that they may wish to undertake to safeguard this excellent example of a military road bridge.”

The bridge over the River Gairn at Gairnshiel Lodge was constructed as part of the military road from Braemar to Fort George, near Inverness.

It was built by Major William Caulfield in the 1740s.