The replacement of a key bridge on the Fife Coastal Path, which collapsed during severe storms in 2020, has taken a major step forward.
Engineers have carried out an in-depth survey of the Aberdour Harbour bridge to assess the extent of the damage and what it will take to repair.
On August 12 last year Fife suffered more than a month’s rainfall in just 24 hours resulting in flooding throughout the region.
In Aberdour flood water from the Dour Burn washed away abutments, as well as banking and structural supports, which eventually lead to the bridge being removed amid fears over safety.
Since then the popular stretch of coastal path has impassable except for low tide when stepping stones, normally submerged under harbour water, can be used.
Tourists, walkers and locals are currently required to take a diversion through the village in order to get round the impasse.
A report outlining the required construction, design and overall cost will now be submitted to both Fife Council and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust before a final decision is made on the project.
The news has been warmly welcomed by locals.
Ian Fleming, chairman of Aberdour Community Council, said: “Obviously everyone is keen to see a replacement footbridge in place as soon as possible and to now have had a geo-technical survey is good news.
“Not only is there the design and structural engineering involved but there have been complex issues surrounding the location of the bridge too.
“It sits within a conservation area as well an area of archaeological importance and there have been landowner rights and permissions to have been worked through too.
“Environmental legislation also plays a key factor and in addition we’ve had the coronavirus pandemic that has restricted what could be achieved up to now.
“The community council has been in regular contact with both the council and the trust and welcome the fact that the project is now moving forward in earnest.”
James Dawson, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust’s head of communities and engagement, said: “The winter weather caused damage to several sections of the Fife Coastal Path, and unfortunately the structural damage to the bridge at Aberdour was a particularly bad example of this.
“The trust realise that this is a real inconvenience for locals and visitors walking the coastal path or just visiting the harbour, and would ask that the public bear with Fife Council and FCCT as we work to fix such issues.
“We have created a clearly marked diversion that takes walkers through Aberdour’s picturesque and historic town centre.”
Work to start this summer
Fife Council service manager, Ross Speirs, added: “This is an area of real environmental significance so a lot of work has been going on in the background to make sure the replacement of the bridge is done in an environmentally sensitive way.
“We’ve now appointed a design consultant to oversee the detailed design phase and ground investigation work started this week.
“We hope that we’ll be able to start work to replace the bridge later in the summer and make sure this important link along the coastal path can be enjoyed for many years to come.”