Laurencekirk junction safety campaigners have been given fresh hope the threat of a public inquiry delay to the long-awaited £24 million improvement scheme may be averted.
Aberdeenshire Council looks set to withdraw an objection to plans for a flyover upgrade at the A90/A937 crossing.
Structural concerns led to the closure of the 170-year-old Oatyhill Bridge over the main east coast rail line but the road serves a number of local homes.
The council’s technical objection was put forward due to side orders related to the junction project that triggered worries properties could be left marooned if the bridge remains closed.
Campaigner Jill Fotheringham said she has been told the objection is being withdrawn and although Aberdeenshire Council are yet to officially confirm that, the authority said it is confident a solution can be found.
Florist Ms Fotheringham has spearheaded the fight for a grade-separated crossing at the junction since she saw the devastating impact on the family of a young driver killed there in 2004.
Additional safety measures have since been put in place, including a 50 miles per hour speed limit to cut the toll of serious and fatal accidents.
It had been anticipated the flyover would be in place by 2022 and Ms Fotheringham hopes avoiding a time-consuming public inquiry can help bring the project start closer.
She said “I’m aware there have been other objections but hopefully they will be sorted soon and we can move forward with a much-needed flyover.”
A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Both Aberdeenshire Council and Nestrans have committed to support the project and anticipate that a technical solution can be found to both deliver the long awaiting junction improvement, but also maintain safe access to the dwellings south of Oatyhill.
“Aberdeenshire Council and Nestrans continue to meet regularly with Transport Scotland and their technical team to look at solutions, and are committed to maintaining a high level of partnership working on the project.”
North-east Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said it is “frustrating the nuts and bolts of a planning issue” had got in the way of the project’s smooth progress.
“However, it’s welcome news and a relief a public inquiry may now not be required on the scheme which is going to be a vital piece of infrastructure for future generations to come.
“The SNP government must now address the one concern about access to Oatyhill with the council, allowing the development to take a step closer to reality without any further delays.
“It has already taken the Scottish Government years to get to this point with tragic accidents continually happening at the junction – now is the time to finally release the handbrake and improve the situation.
“Residents and road users deserve clarity on when work will actually start on these much-needed improvements sooner rather than later.”