Fears have emerged that the main bridge out of Inverbervie on the A92 is no longer “fit for purpose” after daylight appeared through cracks in the 80-year-old structure.
In the wake of accidents that have seen damage to the stonework on the Jubilee Bridge leading out of the burgh to the north, Aberdeenshire Council officials have said they do not believe the structural integrity of the parapets has been hit but are uncertain about the possible effects of a head-on impact with the stonework.
Further investigations into the overall condition of the seven-arched bridge will now be carried out in the wake of concerns raised by Councillor George Carr at the latest meeting of Kincardine and Mearns area committee.
Bridges and structures manager Donald Macpherson detailed the 2015/16 works programme for the 161 bridges and 48 culverts in the area that will involve spending almost £700,000.
The curving Bervie bridge has served the community since 1935, having replaced the single-span bridge built in 1799.
Mr Carr said: “The brickwork is lacking mortar. If you drive across it you can see daylight.
“I just question how fit for purpose it is. Every winter the brickwork is moving and you are seeing dislocation, and there have been a couple of accidents on it.”
Mr Macpherson told the committee: “The Jubilee Bridge has a number of unusual factors to it including its size and the fact it is on a radius curve.
“It has complex engineering properties to it and one of those is the contraction and expansion of the bridge, which we believe is linked to the stonework moving.
“Further investigation needs to be done. At the moment it is not affecting the structural strength of the parapets.”
He added: “The bridge was built in 1935 so there would be a risk if anything hit the parapet. The more square on you hit it the more risk there is but it is something that we are aware of and work will have to be done to maintain the structural integrity of the parapet.”
The works programme for the coming year will include repointing and tree removal at a number of locations and the £210,000 replacement of Balmakelly Bridge on the A937.
Councillors heard that one of the most challenging maintenance projects in the months ahead will be the £30,000 operation to rake out and repoint the Den of Finella viaduct near Laurencekirk, where roped access is a likely option.
“Scaffolding would be expensive,” Mr Macpherson said. “It is a very large bridge going back to 1780, so that is one of our priorities in this programme.”