Highland Perthshire businesses have been spared a summer of misery thanks to a new bridge repairs plan that will avoid the need to close a vital tourist route.
Traders voiced concerns last year when Perth and Kinross Council proposed a two-month closure of the A827 Ballinluig to Aberfeldy road to carry out restoration work at the old Cultullich Bridge.
Locals said the scheme would prevent people getting into town during the busy summer season and hit the area’s already-fragile economy.
The authority agreed to delay the project until this year after outcry from in and around the town.
Now a new plan has been put forward that will allow for crucial embankment repairs to be carried out at the bridge, while keeping the road open.
The site needs to be stabilised after a landslip in 2014. The damage was shored up by the council temporarily, but there are concerns that it could get substantially worse if left untreated.
Any further landfall could also hit the main BT fibre optic cable that provides internet services to homes and businesses throughout Aberfeldy and Kenmore.
The project, which still needs to be rubber-stamped by SEPA, is expected to be carried out between June 1 and October 15.
Ground anchors will be used to stabilise the embankment, allowing for repairs to be carried out while one carriageway is kept open.
Roads engineers said a small number of overnight closures may still be necessary.
Henry Murdoch, owner of the Courtyard Delicatessen in Kenmore, said: “This is a tremendous relief. Good on the roads engineers for coming with an alternative plan.
“It would have just been devastating for the town if the original plan went ahead.”
He said: “We have been told that there will still be a need to close the road on some occasions, so it would be good to know what that was going to happen. I can’t imagine there would be much problem having the road closed overnight.”
Local councillor John Duff also welcomed the new plan. “This is fantastic news for the Aberfeldy area,” he said.
“When it was initially decided that the repairs needed to be carried out, I met with the roads team to raise my concerns about the original proposals and asked for other options to be explored.
“I am delighted that the engineers have now identified a better way to handle the repairs – one that will keep a single carriageway open to traffic with potentially only few days’ closure over the seven week period of works.”
The Conservative councillor said the local authority had secured extra funding for the ground anchor method.