Tourists face 24-mile de­tour

Re­pairs: Emer­gency work for old bridges on Bal­later to Tom­intoul route

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY JOANNE WARNOCK

Mo­torists trav­el­ling on the Snow Roads tourist route can expect weeks of de­lays and a 24-mile de­tour when emer­gency works to re­pair two his­toric bridges be­gins.

The Gairn­shiel and Mil­ton bridges on the A939 Bal­later to Tom­intoul road are both in need of vi­tal re­pairs.

The para­pet on the Gairn­shiel Bridge reg­u­larly needs to be re­built af­ter be­ing knocked off by large ve­hi­cles ne­go­ti­at­ing the sharp cor­ner at the north end of the struc­ture.

Dam­aged stonework on the Mil­ton Bridge will be taken down and re­built which will also be strength­ened with con­crete backing the old ma­sonry arch.

The en­tire stretch of the Bridge of Gairn to Gairn­shiel Lodge through Glen Gairn Road will be closed, as will the Gairn­shiel Bridge where the road forks to­wards Cock Bridge.

The clo­sures will be­gin on Mon­day, May 14 and are ex­pected to last for three weeks.

Mo­torists will be di­verted along a 24-mile route onto the A93 Bal­moral to Din­net road and also the A97 Din­net to Don­side through Strath­don to con­tinue their jour­ney to Tom­intoul.

Dee­side coun­cil­lor Geva Black­ett has been work­ing closely with the coun­cil’s road depart­ment to en­sure “suf­fi­cient sig­nage” is in place and has been cam­paign­ing for heavy goods ve­hi­cles to avoid the route.

She said: “It’s im­por­tant that we get the proper sig­nage in place as it could prove very con­fus­ing for tourists.

“Clos­ing these bridges means pain for peo­ple.

“But hope­fully this round of re­pairs will en­able the Gairn­shiel Bridge to con­tinue to sus­tain ve­hic­u­lar weights be­low the 18-tonne limit un­til the op­tions for

“It could prove very con­fus­ing for tourists”

a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion are agreed and in place.”

The re­pairs to the bridges had been de­layed due to fears it would clash with the Spirit of Spey­side Whisky Week­end due to be­gin on May 3.

The au­thor­ity de­cided to resched­ule the works to avoid putting off po­ten­tial tourists and will be re­pair­ing the weather-dam­aged road at the same time.

Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil’s bridges man­ager, Don­ald Macpher­son, said: “Hope­fully this will also mean the road doesn’t have to be closed for re­pairs later in the year.

“Given this work has to take place in bet­ter weather, we’re do­ing it at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity to min­imise the im­pact on tourist traf­fic, hope­fully en­sur­ing the road re­mains open in the peak sum­mer sea­son.”

The coun­cil said the bridge has con­tin­ued to de­te­ri­o­rate and struc­tural ca­pac­ity con­tin­ues to be an is­sue. An Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil spokesman said: “The coun­cil has writ­ten to over 20 bus tour com­pa­nies to make them aware of the weight re­stric­tion.”

De­tails of road clo­sures and re­stric­tions in Aberdeen­shire can be seen at: http://bit.ly/road­restric­tions

Pho­to­graph by Colin Ren­nie

DAM­AGED: The Lonach High­landers cross his­toric Gairn­shiel Bridge on the A939.

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