Mearns bridge demolished

The bridge demolition was completed on schedule. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council
The bridge demolition was completed on schedule. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council

A crumbling Mearns road bridge, which threatened the region’s rail link with the south, has been demolished.

Abbeyton Bridge, on the B966 just north of Fordoun, was closed in July after inspections found serious failings in the 170-year-old structure.

The dismantling got under way at 2am on Christmas Day. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council

The dismantling got under way at 2am on Christmas Day. Picture: Aberdeenshire Council

It was taken down by a specialist contractor and council engineers over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A council spokesperson said the work began at 2am on Christmas Day was completed on schedule.

Rail services resumed early last Thursday.

There had been a warning that an emergency closure of the line could cost Aberdeenshire Council £1-3 million a day.

However, the bill for taking down the bridge is expected to be around £1 million - more than a third of the annual budget for bridges and other structures.

No decision has been taken on whether it should be replaced.

Councillor Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s infrastructure service committee, said: “The council doesn’t have unlimited resources and the Scottish Government have indicated they’re not willing to assist with that particular project, so it will have to take its place along with all the other projects that are looking for capital funding from the council.

“It will have to be assessed as to whether there are viable alternatives. At the moment there are no plans and that detailed assessment has yet to be done.”

The closure of the road-over-rail landmark has impacted on local businesses.

Robert Armstrong, of Middle Toucks Farmhouse, Stonehaven, said: “The decision to remove it is understandable, however, there are no current plans to replace it, which is ominous.

“Local businesses, such as the nearby Castleton Farm Shop, rely on the access that this road once provided for its customers and the road’s closure risks having a serious financial impact.”

“The bridge needs to be replaced and the council must make a firm commitment.”