THE £16.85 million contract to replace an 80-metre section of the Kincardine Bridge has been awarded.

Balfour Beatty will take on the project which is expected to get underway from early summer and will involve demolishing part of the structure.

The southern piled viaduct, which has been supported by a steel propping system since 1992, will be replaced with a completely new reinforced concrete structure and construction is expected to take two years.

Graeme Dickie, Director of Operations at Balfour Beatty said: "The replacement of the Kincardine Bridge southern piled viaduct is an important project, one which will ensure the long-term future use of the bridge.

"Throughout our works, we will remain focused on reducing our impact on the environment by reusing materials from the existing structure wherever possible, whilst also minimising disruption to the travelling public and local communities."

A temporary two-lane bridge will be constructed alongside the old viaduct to help minimise disruption to traffic and provide access for pedestrians.

Once complete, the new structure will be similar in appearance to the adjacent spans on the original bridge, with the former lamp posts and parapets reinstated.

Last month, Andy Willo, chair of Kincardine Community Council, told the Press that residents in the village were hoping that disruption would not be "too bad".

He said: "The concern will come if something happens on one of the other bridges, be that the Clackmannanshire Bridge or even Queensferry because then everything gets chocked up.

"We haven't really been told anything to be negative about. We are waiting for a bit more steer and timing and to understand what will happen at the changeover, they're going to swap us from one bridge to another and that's going to cause us a bit of disruption but the rest of the time, hopefully not, hopefully it'll be OK."

But councillor Graeme Downie, who represents West Fife and Coastal Villages, said he had a suspicion that residents "don't realise how disruptive it will be".

Chris Tracey, South East Unit Bridges Manager for BEAR Scotland who will be managing the project on behalf of Transport Scotland, said: "Now that the contractor has been confirmed, we’re looking forward to this significant project getting underway.

"We will work with Balfour Beatty to ensure the new viaduct is in keeping with the rest of the structure, to keep the trunk road open during construction, and to mitigate the impact on the surrounding environment."