Dumfries and Galloway Council has done a U-turn over the proposed replacement of the Sparling Bridge in Newton Stewart. and will now create a new bridge over the Cree, with the work delayed until May next year.
A council spokesperson said today: “As a result of recent discussions and correspondence received from the Community Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council are now developing the request for a new pedestrian bridge at Newton Stewart.
“The provision of a new bridge will, however, have time implications for the provision of the crossing and we are aware that the local community is expecting the replacement bridge to be in position soon. Unfortunately the work involved in planning and costing for a new bridge will mean that the earliest work can commence will be May 2018, with installation then taking 3-4 months, and a completion date of mid to late summer 2018.
“The additional time now gives us an opportunity to apply for match funding for a new improved bridge which would be of a standard suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists (given that it forms part of the National Cycle Network).
“The Council are also working with SWECO on the options to protect Newton Stewart from flooding, as such SWECO could assist in the design of the new bridge structure, providing the possibility of building any defence works at this location into the new ramps and piers.
The Project Team recently met with colleagues from another Council who have undertaken a similar exercise as part of their flood protection scheme. They too replaced an old Bailey Bridge with a new structure. As this was part of the overall flood scheme, this was part funded by Scottish Government and attracted match funding as the new bridge is a cycle/pedestrian bridge to link a National Cycle Network.
“We recognise that the delay in replacing the bridge may not be welcomed by some of the local community, but through working with the Community Council there is now an opportunity to provide a modern, attractive crossing which is fit for purpose, is more cost effective, and has the potential to be integrated into an overall flood protection scheme for Newton Stewart.
“As a result of the above the Council are no longer progressing plans to install the old Sparling Bridge but are instead putting all our resources into the provision of an improved new bridge next year.”
Councillor Archie Dryburgh, Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said: “We know this has been a long and difficult journey for the residents of Newton Stewart, and we’re aware that this is a further delay. However, I hope the local community will appreciate that building a completely new bridge is now a better solution than replacing the old one. This will not only help us tie in the bridge with the overall flood defence scheme, but will also provide a longer term, more attractive, cost effective and sustainable solution to the river crossing.”