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Welcome Welcome to our latest newsletter highlighting the work being done by BEAR Scotland on the trunk roads across the North West of Scotland. Winter is behind us and spring has come and gone and now we welcome the arrival of summer and some warmer weather. A lot has happened during this time so this edition of the newsletter looks at what we’ve been focused on over the past few months. The Beast from The East was just one example of the extreme winter conditions that caused a variety of issues across our trunk roads in the North West. Despite this we delivered a host of vital improvements across the networks’ roads and bridges. Such drastic and adverse weather undoubtedly brings challenges for our team. As well as frontline winter maintenance, the aftermath sees the accelerated development of potholes and other road defects that impacts road users. We have therefore had to implement a dedicated emergency resurfacing programme to address this in many areas. I would like to thank road users for their patience while repairs were undertaken. We appreciate it can be frustrating for rmotorists. Our team continues to work tirelessly to reduce the impact of adverse weather on road conditions and resurfacing will continue throughout the summer and autumn.

Eddie Ross BEAR Scotland’s North West Operating Company Representative

This newsletter provides some background and context as to why and how such defects occur following bad weather (see pages 4 and 5). We hope you find this section useful. Additionally, we continue to progress improvements to bridges in the region (see page 3), with the A835 bridge replacement at Criche being completed and progress being made on the Cromarty Bridge. Furthermore, we have seen good progress on the A83 Rest and be Thankful landslip mitigation project which remains on course for completion in the next few months. I hope you find the newsletter interesting or if you have any feedback or questions about it I would be delighted to hear from you.

We welcome your feedback, get in touch: Traffic Scotland Customer Care Line

For general information and reporting defects: 0800 028 1414

BEAR Scotland General enquiries: 01738 448600

BEAR Scotland Media enquiries only: 0330 008 0610 or 0845 296 0027 @NWTrunkRoads

Over £20M invested in trunk road maintanence in the north west

Work on the catch-pits at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful is making good progress

Over £20M has been invested in trunk road maintenance projects since December and some major milestones have been reached in some of our biggest tasks in the part few months. Here’s a recap of some of our projects: •

The £1.5M improvement project on the A9 at Cromarty Bridge has been completed.

April saw the completion of the A830 bridge replacement at Criche, with preparations for the next bridge in the programme at Slatach now underway.

The A9 Dornoch Bridge parapet upgrade has now been completed.

The first milestone has been reached on the A835 culvert replacement scheme at Leckmelm Farm Culvert, with the opening of a temporary bridge for traffic. The £1.1M investment from Transport Scotland will address historic flooding issues and is on course for completion this summer.

A83 Rest and Be Thankful landslip mitigation programme has seen good progress through spring with construction on course for this summer.

The ongoing bend realignment project on the A83 at Strone Point is making good progress with the successful completion of the new rock face and soil stabilisation systems in April. The contractor then progressed work on drainage and carriageway construction with the project expected to be completed in the summer.

A bridge painting project worth over £1M on the A830 Morar River Bridge was completed in April. The work involved applying a specialist coating system to all sections of steelwork on the structure, helping to protect it against rust and deterioration.

A830 Morar River Bridge painting underway earlier this year

Soil nail construction on the A83 Strone Point

Over 6,000 tonnes of material has been removed from the slope face on the A83 at Strone Point

Beneath the bridge deck on the newly painted A830 Morar River Bridge

Carrying out surfacing repairs in the north west

BEAR Scotland is doing all it can to carry out repairs across trunk roads in the North West of Scotland after harsh weather conditions in December, January, February and March had a detrimental effect on sections of the network. Now an ongoing £24M programme of surfacing improvements at over 200 locations across the North West is well underway. BEAR Scotland’s North West Planned Maintenance Manager explains the science behind the cause of this deterioration across the road surface and how BEAR Scotland teams are carrying out repairs.


road pavement has a natural life cycle and at some point it will require maintenance, repair and replacement. While most of these repair and replacement projects can be planned, sometimes a road surface can fail prematurely. Such failure can happen over the course of months, or it can be very sudden. Asphalt surfaces, such as the ones that make up most of the trunk roads BEAR manage, are known for their durability and resilience. Its strengths make it a highly used material for many road surfacing applications and is by far the preferred material for the vast majority of roads across the UK, and indeed Europe. Like all paved surfaces however, it is susceptible to deterioration due to the laws of nature. Despite the great longevity of a properly laid asphalt surface, it can be cut short simply due to long term exposure to the elements. Freeze and Thaw Cycle Over time, road pavement will naturally deteriorate as the materials that make up the road begin to break down

and become affected by elements such as temperature (especially freezing followed by thawing), rain, sunlight and chemicals (such as diesel) that come into contact with the road surface. The asphalt binder that is the “glue” of the road begins to lose its natural resistance to water, allowing it to penetrate into and underneath the pavement. Once this happens, the surface can quickly fall prey to a number of different types of deterioration. Due to the expansion and contraction of water when it freezes and thaws, the ice formed in freezing conditions expands in the voids within the carriageway’s matrix which can lead to tearing of the binder which holds the aggregate in the road together. This generally happens at surface level where the frost penetrates the upper layers. With the repeated expansion and contraction the stones in the road surface begin to loosen as their bond is weakened. The more this happens, the greater the rate of deterioration. This is a major contributory factor into how potholes occur. In a section of road where surfacing materials are all of the

same age and composition, sudden onset deterioration can occur on a rapidly spreading basis and water penetrates not only from the running surface down, but also through the looser stone which occurs on the sides of the pothole as it forms. This freeze / thaw action happened across the North West network at an extraordinary rate over the past winter period due to the range of temperatures fluctuation above and below the freezing point. Between December and March alone this freeze and thaw cycle occurred very frequently with 58 days where this was recorded - the highest number of instances in the last five years. The timing and length of this recent freeze has made matters worse than in previous years. On the A85 in Connel, one of the areas that was badly damaged by the weather earlier this year, road surface temperatures in December ranged from a high of 10.3 degrees to a low of -6.5 degrees - a swing of nearly 17 degrees – which, when coupled with heavy rain in the same month, meant that the road surface had begun to break down in some places due to this flux in temperature and weather conditions.

“This freeze and thaw action happened across the network at an extraordinary rate this winter” Challenges Fixing potholes in winter is difficult due to snow, ice, water and moisture naturally collect in the holes and cracks. The existing pavement needs to be dry for most asphalt mixtures to form a solid, permanent bond. If moisture remains in the hole it can start the deterioration process all over again: freezing, expanding and allowing room for more precipitation to enter and expand further. When air temperatures have dropped to below minus 12 degrees as they did in January this year, it is a real challenge to try to repair the road surfaces in winter conditions. As a result, and due to the accelerated rate of pothole development during the early months of this year, the fallback solution used to overcome this has been to place temporary repair material into holes to minimize the spread of potholes in the short term while a permanent solution can be delivered when warmer and drier conditions prevail. That’s why spring and summer are the ideal months for conducting road repairs where possible. At the same time

we have to consider the impact our work has and to limit disruption to local communities and the important tourist economy. What are BEAR doing to carry out road repairs? BEAR would urge people to report potholes. This can usually be done through the BEAR website under the ‘report a defect’ function, or by calling Transport Scotland’s Freephone trunk road customer care line on 0800 028 1414. Our teams are now well underway with a £24M programme of surfacing improvements at over 200 locations across the North West Unit before the end of this year, with teams working to minimise any disruption to road users wherever they can. Information on this programme is available on the BEAR Scotland website, For all up to date traffic information, visit Traffic Scotland at, their new mobile site at or on twitter @trafficscotland

Keeping trunk roads moving during winter 2017/18

We used more than double the amount of salt compared to last winter! This winter in numbers • • • • • • •

There were 28 continuous days between December and January where temperatures dropped below zero. Teams used more than double the amount of salt compated to last winter! We saw 79 snow days across the north west network. A depth of 1.2m (almost 4ft) of drifitng snow was recorded at Glencoe on the A82 - the deepest snow drifts in the north west this winter. Road surface temperatures dipped to -10.9 degrees on the A835 at Aultguish, the coldest we saw this winter. Our gritters were kept busy this winter with teams working round the clock to carry out salt treatments across the network. We deployed our three snow blowers attachments to help clear drifting snow this winter - they are capable of shifting over 1,300 tonnes of snow per hour! Ready Spready Go and Co. prove a hit with the media Our winter fleet is famous. Sir Andy Flurry, Ready Spready Go and Ice Destroyer have featured in the media throughout the winter. The BBC, The Times, The Telegraph and Daily Mail have featured our named gritters tackling the winter conditions with Traffic Scotland’s Gritter Tracker gaining popularity to help spot them. Social media also ignited after noticing the initiative with an abundance of positive responses from members of the public, which then also led to competitions for primary schools in Oban being asked to suggest new names. We also used the winter months to post a series of Vlogs on our official twitter account, allowing the public to access useful information about winter road safety.

Gangsta Granny Gritter hits the roads in Inverness


yle Mackay, an eight-year-old who was recently praised by Scotland’s previous Transport Minister Humza Yousaf for helping clear pavements of snow and ice in his home village of Kiltarlity, unveiled a new name for one of BEAR’s winter vehicles on a visit to our Inverness depot in March. Gangsta Granny Gritter was named by Kyle after a character from his favourite book, written by David Walliams.

BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland for the opportunity to do so and I know Kyle can’t wait to see it out on the road!” Gangsta Granny Gritter now joins the rest of BEAR’s 54-strong winter fleet in the north west, which includes other named gritters including ‘Mr. Plow’, ‘Gritallica’ and ‘Ready, Spready, Go!’.

The gritter is one of BEAR’s 32-tonne, eight-wheeler vehicles – one of the largest in the UK. Kyle and members of the public will be able to track Gangsta Granny Gritter’s whereabouts via Traffic Scotland’s online Gritter Tracker as it helps clear trunk roads across Inverness and the North West of Scotland for years to come. Kevin Campbell, BEAR Scotland Winter Manager for the North West of Scotland said: “We have been extremely impressed by Kyle’s initiative and determination to keep his home village safe during the recent bad weather. His community spirit is to his and his family’s credit. We were thrilled to offer him the opportunity to visit our depot and name one of our gritters.” Kyle’s mother, Allana Mackay, added: “Kyle was over the moon to have the chance to name one of BEAR’s winter gritters after his favourite character. We’re grateful to Projects were designed to improve drainage on sections of the route

The new crash barrier was successfully installed during the works.

Community involvement

Giving a helping hand in Auchterarder A team from BEAR once again provided a helping hand to the community in Auchterarder by assisting with the maintenance of The Provost Walk foot path near the village. BEAR team members helped by removing weeds and grass from the filter drains along the path, planted groups of native flora and fauna in the large grass areas for wildlife habitats as well as carrying out some litter picking of the route. The community was very appreciative of BEAR’s efforts and welcomed their assistance during their annual clean-up.

Supporting the National Trust of Scotland in Glencoe

Teams in our Corpach Depot once again supported the National Trust of Scotland in their litter pick of Glencoe earlier this month. The team supplied traffic management to help ensure all the volunteers were kept safe during the event. Together teams managed to collect 67 bags of rubbish from the roadsides at Glencoe.

School pupils visit BEAR Perth depot Pupils from two local secondary schools, Perth High School and Webster High School, were welcomed to the Perth Depot in March for an insight into engineering and road maintenance. The pupils are participating in this year’s Go4SET challenge, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject challenge which involves pupils designing, creating and reporting on a related project of their own choosing. Two graduate engineers have been appointed as the pupils’ mentors as they progress through their own projects, and the pupils welcomed the opportunity to apply real-life experiences from engineering challenges at BEAR to their own work. Both pupils and teachers enjoyed the visit to learn more about who we are and how we operate. @NWTrunkRoads

North West Connections - Stakeholder newsletter - Summer 2018  

Read about the latest news from the north west trunk road network, including project updates, the impact of this year's winter weather acros...

North West Connections - Stakeholder newsletter - Summer 2018  

Read about the latest news from the north west trunk road network, including project updates, the impact of this year's winter weather acros...