THE next phase of work refurbishing a key Ross-shire road link is set to take place next year, with lessons learned from previous upgrades set to be heeded.
Another section of the A9 Cromarty Bridge will be upgraded in April by BEAR Scotland, which is responsible for maintaining the road on behalf of government agency Transport Scotland
Designs have been prepared to refurbish four spans in need of upgrading and repair. That follows work in 2011 to the first four spans of the bridge. The next phase involves upgrades to spans five to eight of the bridge deck.
Work includes concrete repairs to the bridge deck and supports, instalment of new bridge joints and of protection measures to prevent any future deterioration. The bridge deck will be resurfaced and waterproofed to ensure a smooth journey for users.
The repairs follow a £4m package of improvements completed earlier this year. That included replacement of the bridge parapets on both sides of the structure, the installation of scour-protection measures and advanced electrical works to help facilitate the deck span replacement.
The upgrades are expected to take place over six months and will use traffic signal control to protect bridge users and road workers.
The work is taking place outwith winter, says BEAR, "to minimise the impact of adverse weather conditions, which could prolong the time taken to complete the scheme".
Key stakeholders including Highland Council, emergency services and the Cromarty Firth Port Authority have been kept abreast of the plans.
A public meeting will be held in the new year to explain to local communities what’s planned.
Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s North West representative, said: "The next phase of works will allow us to upgrade the next four spans on Cromarty Bridge to withstand the harsh natural environment, making sure it will remain in safe working condition for years to come.
"The recent meetings with representatives from the Highland Council, emergency services and other stakeholders allowed us to explain the necessity of the repairs. The next stage will be to have a public information meeting in the New Year where we can share the plans for the Cromarty Bridge refurbishment with the local communities.
"We have taken on board some of the lessons learned from the works carried out during the improvements in 2011 and will incorporate these into our strategy for completing this next phase in 2017. We’ve already completed advanced works earlier this year which will help facilitate the bridge refurbishment programme to further limit the overall impact of the project."
He pledged that bus and cruise liner timetables and peak-flow traffic times would be taken into account when work proceeds.
Variable message signs on the trunk road network will provide up-to-date information during the works to advise of any delays.
Real-time journey information will be made available through Traffic Scotland on www.trafficscotland.org or twitter @trafficscotland.