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New bridge for Muir of Ord

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The village of Muir of Ord in the Scottish Highlands is set to get a new railway bridge after Highland Council proceeded with plans for a £4.5 million development which will offer a boost to motorists and residents alike.

Highland Council are set to demolish an existing road bridge over the railway in the heart of the village, and replace it with another, along with new approach roads and associated engineering works.

David Mackenzie, Chief Structural Engineer at Highland Council said: “It is a completely new bridge being built beside the existing one with approach roads from each side. Once the new bridge is ready and comes into use, we will be able to dismantle and take away the old bridge. Work started on the project at the beginning of December 2015 and we are hoping to be completed by early 2017.”

The local authority inherited the 140-year-old metal bridge from British Rail in the 1980s. Traffic signals were later installed, reducing the bridge to one-lane operation, as a precautionary measure to limit total live loading.

David added: “The old bridge has had a restriction on its use for many years and has been controlled to a single way passage of traffic using traffic signals to protect it from any risk of overloading. The removal of that and the freeing up of traffic and pedestrian movement will be very welcome.”

The project has been high on the council’s priority list of major bridge works in its capital programme for a number of years. Current proposals were first approved by the council’s planning committee in September 2010.

“From the council’s point of view, we have had to find the budget to do the job, and with many demands on available funds, we have had to wait somewhat longer than we would have liked, but the funds are there and we can do the job now and are pressing on with it,” said David.

Work on the project has so far included the overall design of the scheme and new bridge as well as the approach roadworks. The council has also had to work with all of the public utilities including gas, electricity, water and lighting and are working closely with Network Rail due to the bridge crossing their railway line.

Construction is being undertaken by contractors George Leslie Ltd. The new bridge will be a concrete construction. End supports, and the central pier, are in reinforced concrete with the spanning structure of the deck comprising pre-stressed concrete beams and a reinforced concrete top slab.

David said: “The foundations for the end supports and the intermediate support are now in place; things are starting to come out of the ground.”

Construction on the bridge is expected to be completed by spring 2017.

David commented: “Everything has to be done with sensitivity because we arein the middle of a village, right by a railway station, crossing a live railway line. The bridge design is aimed at having minimal impact on the railway during construction. We have kept the end supports well away from tracks and are going for pre-cast beams in the spanning superstructure.”

The new bridge is to be located to the north of the existing three-span structure and will allow for a two-lane road with a footway either side.

David concluded: “So far the work has been going well. The contractor is getting on well and has a good working relationship with Network Rail. The scheme is very important to local people, to businesses and to the wider travelling public. It cannot come soon enough from their point of view.”

 

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