The Bervie Braes road between Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle is to reopen during the summer months.
The decision was made by members of the Policy and Resources Committee today (Thursday 18 April 2013) after they considered a number of options for the future of the route.
Under the new scheme, the road will open during summer months (April to October), with a weight limit of three tonnes, a 20mph speed limit and a one-way system running from Dunnottar Castle into Stonehaven.
Barriers will also be installed as an added safety measure on the road running down Bervie Braes.
The necessary steps will now be taken for the barrier units to be bought and installed on the road. Subject to delivery of the barriers, it is hoped that the road will be reopened within a matter of weeks. Further work will be carried out to formalise the arrangements and they will be carried out after the road closes again in October.
The road has been closed to vehicles for safety reasons following a major landslip on the Braes in 2009.
Eight options for the future of the road were drawn up, following completion of a £3 million programme of stabilisation works on Bervie Braes, ranging from a £1.9 million earthworks re-grading scheme to retaining the road closure on a permanent basis, at a cost of £50,000.
The recommended option – the part-time reopening of the road and the installation of modular barriers at a cost of £300,000 – was approved by councillors. The option had also been endorsed by the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee at a meeting in March.
Committee chair, Councillor Jim Gifford, said: “The situation is different from before, when the slope slipped occasionally. We have intervened here. The liability is now ours.”
Committee vice-chair, Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, said: “This council has demonstrated over the past few years its total commitment to Stonehaven, and in terms of economic development generally speaking.”
Frank Budd, of Stonehaven Town Partnership, told the committee: “Stonehaven is a real tourist town and the biggest attraction for tourists is the world famous Dunnottar Castle.
“We would like dearly that the main connection to a major attraction remains open all year round.”
Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, told the committee that officers would continue to monitor and review the situation on the slopes.
Councillors asked for a report to go back to the committee at a future date to give an update on the impact on Bervie Braes of reopening the road.
They also agreed to earmark £300,000 from the current revenue monitoring forecast to fund the costs of the project.
The scheme will see the road open to vehicular traffic during the “summer” period when rainfall is likely to be at its lowest. When the road is open, a system will be put in place to trigger the closure of the road should there be concerns about the stability of the slope in the even of particularly heavy rainfall.
To date there is no objective data on how regularly the road was used before it was closed. Once the road reopens, the council will monitor the usage of the road during summer months. Further work will also be carried out to assess the economic impact of the route on the town and the wider Aberdeenshire area.
The condition of the slope and the number and volume of any slips will also be monitored.
Over approximately the last 12 months there have been eight landslips, of varying sizes, on the upper slope of Bervie Braes. While none have caused significant amounts of debris to flow onto the road, they do confirm the instability of the upper slope.