A deteriorating Mearns road bridge, threatening the region’s rail link with the south, is to be demolished.
Abbeyton Bridge, on the B966 just north of Fordoun, was shut in July after inspections found serious failings in the 170-year-old structure.
Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee has agreed to the demolition of the road-over-rail landmark using specialist contractors.
Amid concern over further deterioration, the council says an emergency closure of the rail line and disruption to services using the link could cost the authority £1-£3million a day.
The bill for taking down the bridge alone is expected to be around £1million - more than a third of the annual budget for bridges and other structures.
No decision has been taken on whether it should be replaced.
Infrastructure services committee chair Peter Argyle said: “The costs associated with an unplanned closure of the line are huge and the only way to remove the risk is to remove the bridge, as it cannot be repaired.
“Under normal circumstances, this work would take two years to plan but this was considered to be unacceptable and early appointment of a contractor experienced in this field, with existing Network Rail approval, has been critical in moving this project forward.
“We appreciate this decision impacts on road users and the nearby Castleton Farm Shop, but it has been taken purely in the interest of safety and to avoid the potential issues caused by an emergency closure of the railway line.”