A STIRLING centenarian was the first member of the public to cross the rebuilt Kerse Road Bridge when it reopened last week.

Mary Cooper, who was born in Bridge of Allan on April 19 in 1918, was joined be fellow local elder Betty Imrie, 92, to cut the ribbon on the structure over the railway line, which is being electrified.

As previously reported, Network Rail had to raised the bridge in height to allow works below and also widened the road surface, with a potential for an extra lane.

It was a “special honour” for Mary who was proud to be chosen and was looking forward to the big day, which was a “lovely late birthday present”.

The bridge reopened a week earlier than planned on Friday, October 19, at 2pm.

Mary, a former legal secretary and employee with the Stirling County Council education department, has seen plenty of change in the city.

She said: “As a local resident, I know it has caused a lot of disruption in the area and I’m delighted to see the bridge reopening ahead of schedule.”

Mary can still remember when horses and steam trains were a common sight around town.

She said: “The biggest change in Stirling in my life is the traffic.

“When we moved to Linden Avenue at first it was a quiet suburb and I could walk up town without having to cross any roads.

“When I was young, there were still horse-drawn carts and steam trains.”

The £8million structure, with £1m from Stirling Council, was closed for six months and is now open to two-way traffic with no restrictions.

The temporary footbridge, which runs adjacent to the bridge, will remain in place until the new year.

Following the elders and officials who were first across, Stirling couple Stephen Straighton and Emily Postlethwaite also had the honour of marking their wedding day as the first pair to cross the bridge on four wheels.

Iain McFarlane, Network Rail’s route delivery director for the Stirling-Dunblane-Alloa electrification project, thanked everyone for their patience.

He added: “The reconstructed bridge at Kerse Road enables the electrification of the rail lines through Stirling but also delivers a stronger and wider structure which will stand the city in good stead for many years to come.

“We understand the impact this closure had for road users, businesses and communities adjacent to the site, but we have worked proactively with Stirling Council to minimise disruption and maintained close communication with the wider community to update on progress throughout.”