The East Beach bridge in Lossiemouth will be demolished as part of the £1.8million project to build a new crossing to the much-loved sands.
Contractors could tear down the wooden structure, which has stood for more than a century, before the end of the year.
The bridge, known to locals as the “briggie”, has been sealed off due to safety concerns since July 2019 after it buckled under the weight of sun-seekers.
Fly-through video number 1 for Lossie's East Beach bridge replacement 👇
Posted by Moray Council on Monday, March 1, 2021
Lossiemouth bridge critical to town
An economic impact survey funded by the community has since established the crossing was used by 200,000 people a year while ploughing £1.5million into shorefront businesses.
The Scottish Government agreed to fund the design and construction of a new bridge, which is expected to be complete early next year.
Now Moray Council has agreed the historic Lossiemouth bridge will be demolished as part of the same project.
Heldon and Laich councillor John Cowe made an emotional appeal to delay the move at a full council meeting – before withdrawing his request due to a lack of support.
He said: “The bridge itself is part of Lossie – its culture and its heritage as well as being an iconic local landmark.
“It’s been there for more than 100 years. It’s much-loved, photographed and admired.
“I would ask the demolition is deferred until at least the new bridge is in place so the community of Lossie have had time to contemplate the demise of the present bridge.”
One of the hurdles repairing the former crossing was due to it being legally ownerless due to the former custodians, the Elgin Harbour Company, being liquidated.
Moray Council has now agreed to take ownership of the new crossing, which will be built at a new location from the Esplanade, once complete.
Demolition delay would push up cost
However, council leader Graham Leadbitter argued the current structure should be taken down now to save money on demolition fees.
Officials revealed the cost could rise from £69,000 by nearly £10,000 if the work was not done now due to the need to secure a new contractor.
Mr Leadbitter said: “I have a great deal of sympathy for the situation, but I’m not sure what a delay would achieve.
“It would add additional cost to the demolition, which would almost certainly happen anyway.
“The council is already incurring costs to simply keep the public safe by preventing access to it.
“Are we going to get to the point where we have to stop river traffic too? It’s a tricky question and I’m not sure whether pushing it further away would make any difference.”
The new bridge is expected to have a lifespan of 100 years.
Council officers explained replacing the decking on the current crossing would only last about 20 years while also costing more money.
In a report, consultancy manager Debbie Halliday said: “Although the community has a fond connection to the old bridge, the building of a new bridge means it has served its function and will continue to deteriorate to the point where it becomes an eyesore and a danger to public safety.
“The option of using the power of wellbeing to remove the bridge as part of the contract to build the new one provides better value for money and removes risk to the public.”