Work has finished early to create a temporary replacement for an Aberdeenshire bridge badly damaged by severe flash flooding.
Hatton Mill Bridge needs to be completely replaced and local motorists had been forced to take lengthy diversions.
The old bridge collapsed on December 22 last year and a temporary footbridge was put in place, but there was no provision for vehicles. Access in and out of Hatton has now been improved with the opening of a temporary road and footbridge, two weeks ahead of schedule.
The new crossing, immediately downstream from the collapsed bridge at Hatton Farm Road, allows single-lane traffic on the bridge and two-lanes on the approaches.
Aberdeenshire Council’s contractors started earthworks on March 19 and the project had been expected to take six weeks but the inconvenience to local resindets was recognised and the job was completed early.
Plans have also been progressing on the permanent bridge, which will be bigger and stronger than that which collapsed and should serve the community for many years to come.
The current temporary footbridge will now be removed to provide space to construct the permanent replacement bridge, expected to cost around £150,000.
It is thought the temporary road and pedestrian crossing will need to be in place for four months to allow the permanent bridge to be built.It will then be completely removed and the ground reinstated to its original condition.
The work required to plan, design and deliver the permanent replacement has been progressing in tandem with work to create the temporary structure.
It will comprise a reinforced concrete box with a span twice the size of the original, whose foundations were swept away in December’s floods.
Work to divert an exposed gas main has been completed and the next stage will be to divert the remaining utilities which still cross the collapsed structure.
When that is finished, the remainder of the Hatton Mill Bridge will be demolished and the site will be prepared for its replacement.