Repairs a bridge too far for Aberdeenshire Council

A national survey highlighting Aberdeenshire’s broken bridges has prompted calls over fairer funding for the local authority.

By Dawn Renton
Thursday, 11th February 2021, 6:34 am
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 7:08 am
Park Bridge had to be closed in 2019.
Park Bridge had to be closed in 2019.

Research by the RAC Foundation revealed 48 bridges in Aberdeenshire were found to be below standard as of October – around 4 per cent of the 1,346 managed by the council.

This means they were unable to support the heaviest loads, such as lorries of up to 44 tonnes.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “We might not yet be at the stage where London Bridge has fallen down, as described in the nursery rhyme, but several other bridges across the country have suffered partial or total collapses. At the same time there has been a worrying decline in the number of inspections carried out to examine just how much damage rivers, and the debris they carry, are doing to bridges below the waterline. This is storing up trouble for the future as our weather gets more extreme and traffic volumes rise again after the Covid-19 restrictions.”

The communities of Durris and Drumoak were split when Park Bridge had to be closed in 2019. Seven bridges shut in King Edward last September but Aberdeenshire Council only had the budget to repair one.

Donald MacPherson, Structures Manager at Aberdeenshire Council, said: "Aberdeenshire Council takes the safety of the travelling public very seriously. We ensure that all bridges are regularly inspected every two years by engineers from the Bridges Team.

"Those identified with an increased safety risk are monitored at more frequent intervals, and if necessary, weight limits will be applied or ultimately full closure to all motorised vehicles."

Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett, said: “The Scottish Government have received a record block grant from the UK Government this year, to help protect the economy and rebuild after Covid. This is the perfect time to be visionary and bring communities together again. Michael Matheson has the opportunity to make sound infrastructure decisions in the North East.

"We have communities which are divided, and the council can’t afford to foot the bill. If this was an issue in the Central Belt we would not have been speaking about this now.”