THE contractor entrusted with a high-profile £13.2million revamp of the Kessock Bridge has been named.
A programme of essential repairs to the A9 link took a step forward today when Transport Scotland revealed that Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering had been appointed to undertake the works.
The £13.2 contract will see the engineering firm carry out extensive refurbishment works, including resurfacing of the bridge deck, on the 30-year-old bridge between February and June 2013 and between February and June 2014.
With "significant delays" expected on and around the bridge during the works, commuters are being urged to give their travel arrangements some thought during the festive holidays.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Within a matter of weeks from now this project begins, and we are encouraging people travelling to and from Inverness during peak times to start thinking now about alternative and easier ways to travel while these works are going on.
“There will be additional capacity on both buses and trains from February and public transport will allow people to get in and out of the city faster.
"A local car-share scheme has also been set up and if enough people take advantage of this, we can reduce the number of cars on the road and hence reduce congestion.
“We have already invested heavily in measures to alleviate congestion, including improvements to Longman roundabout and the reopening of Conon Bridge Station. However, we all have a part to play in keeping Inverness moving during these essential repairs and I urge commuters to think about what they could do differently to avoid being delayed in queues when the works start in February.”
The first phase of the resurfacing work will commence in February 2013 and last until June 2013, with a second phase the following year, commencing February 2014 and lasting until June 2014.
Traffic restrictions will be in place during these times, with lane closures and a reduced speed limit of 30mph on the bridge for the safety of motorists and the workforce.
Murray Easton, Balfour Beatty, Managing Director Scotland, said: “This is an important contract for the north of Scotland and we are delighted to have been awarded it. We have extensive experience of working on complex bridge projects in demanding situations, for example on the M74 completion project and the Forth Road Bridge.
"We will draw on all that experience to carry out the contract with as little disruption as possible.”
Peak-time train services into Inverness will be doubled in capacity during the works with four carriages instead of two.
A dedicated bus lane will be put in place on the A9 south running from Tore Roundabout to Kessock Bridge and Stagecoach is currently developing a timetable of additional bus services to and from the Black Isle.
A local car-sharing scheme has been set up by Transition Black Isle, allowing people in and around Inverness to be matched up with commuters making the same journey.
The Kessock Bridge opened to traffic in 1982. It is a cable stayed bridge and carries the A9 dual carriageway trunk road across the Beauly Firth at Inverness. The traffic flow on Kessock Bridge is approximately 30,000 vehicles per day with 11 per cent of these HGVs.
The main works will involve removing the existing road surface, repairing any defects to the bridge steel deck plate, applying waterproofing to bridge steel deck plate and resurfacing both carriageways.
Contractors will also replace the bridge deck expansion joints, replace the lighting columns, replace the safety fences in the central reserve and footways and resurface the footways and cycle-ways.
Motorists driving in and around Inverness during the works can access up to the minute journey time information at www.trafficscotland.org.
Further journey planning information is also available on Twitter and via the Travelline Scotland/Transport Scotland travel app.
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