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ON THE COVER: M90 Craigend Interchange near Perth undergoing a £400,000 upgrade


Welcome to the summer newsletter covering the work that has been done by BEAR Scotland and our supply chain across the North East Trunk Road Unit. Our newsletter covers the winter and spring periods during which we have encountered a number of challenges particularly in relation to the weather conditions. Throughout this period we have also undertaken a wide variety of improvement works to our roads, footways and bridges. During the winter we had storms Desmond, Frank and Henry causing area-wide and local issues across our trunk roads. We have included an article on these events which highlight the need for continued investment in improving the resilience of these sections of our network. This will continue to be a focus for all of us in the year ahead.

Andy Thompson, BEAR Scotland’s North East Operating Company Representative

The bridges in the North East provide key links, and as a result of the storms in January we undertook a number of additional investigations of bridges in the Aberdeen area to highlight any remedial work required to repair the damage caused by the storms. Key investments have been made to assist all forms of travel. The footway network around Gleneagles has been widened and improved to help improve links to the local railway station. The concrete carriageway section of the M90 is being upgraded on staged bases by overlaying with a bituminous surface layer. These improvements have helped the smoothness of the journey while also stabilising the condition of the concrete. We have also introduced a number of upgrades to our network of street lights by introducing LED lighting, which will bring significant reductions to the ongoing costs of powering these lights. I hope you find the newsletter of interest and I would be happy to receive any feedback on how North East Connections can be more informative in future editions.

We welcome your feedback, get in touch: Traffic Scotland Customer Care Line For general information and reporting defects. Tel: 0800 028 1414 General enquiries Tel: 01738 448600 Media enquiries only: 0330 008 0610 or 0845 296 0027

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Winter storms impact the North East

BEAR Scotland works round the clock to keep trunk roads clear and moving, whatever the weather. Winter brings challenges each year, and BEAR’s 24/7 winter response helped to make sure roads were treated following analysis of forecast conditions and cleared following any snowfall. Over 16,000 tonnes of salt was used this winter to keep road users safe on the trunk road network. Not only did we have snow to content with but we also had a number of storms. In particular, Storms Desmond, Frank and Henry brought high winds and caused flooding on a number of roads. The M90 was closed for a day in early December during Storm Desmond due to flooding at Glenfarg as a result of large volumes of water and debris flowing from adjacent farm land and blocking a culvert. BEAR teams worked round the clock to get the road reopened by unblocking the drain and using specialist pumps to clear the water. Storm Frank hit at the end of December bringing further heavy rains to the North East. The highest flood water levels were at structures on the A90 between Forfar and Aberdeen, as well as on the A96 between Elgin and Fochabers. Due to the water levels and possible debris damages, structural assessments were completed for bridges on all routes. The River South Esk flood levels brought large volumes of debris around the A90 Finavon Bridge, and teams worked to clear and assess any impact as soon as the weather calmed. At its highest, the flood waters submerged the bottom section of the steel beams of the bridge. The A90 Bridge of Dee in Aberdeen was inspected several times in December and January as a result of the exceptional rainfalls. At full flood levels the River Dee reached the flood arches at the north end of the bridge. Half a metre of debris built up at the gates of the arches, and whilst there was some concern that the bridge had been damaged, luckily this was not the case and the teams worked to clear the material following the storms. Our control room is in operation 24/7 to keep an eye on routes so our teams can assist in anyway they can. From top, clockwise: The M90 was flooded at Junction 8 near Glenfarg; Storm Frank brought large amounts of debris to the Bridge of Dee due to high water levels; the A90 Finavon Bridge was subject to checks following the debris from fthe storms; the River South Esk submerged the bottom section of steel beams on the Finavon Bridge during the highest amount of flooding.


M90 improvements continue

The M90 is used by over 30,000 vehicles a day, making it one of the busiest routes in the North East The M90 motorway serves as a main artery from Edinburgh to the north of Scotland. BEAR Scotland maintains the route between Junction 3 Halbeath and Perth, where around 30,000 vehicles pass each day. A ÂŁ2M programme took place on Junctions 4-6, one of the busiest sections of the route, to upgrade the carriageway. A 12km section of the route, originally constructed in 1971, was the first site in the UK to be constructed using reinforced concrete slabs. Over time the ride quality of the section has deteriorated significantly, despite ongoing maintenance, predominantly due to the number of transverse joints in the concrete which are spaced at six metre intervals.


A 3.8km stretch is now being repaired and resurfaced with an innovative method which involves replacing the worn joints with an elastomeric material and overlaying the concrete carriageway with a thin surfacing material. This provides a cost-effective solution for Transport Scotland as overbridges and barrier systems are not affected by the minimal change in road surface level. The works began in April and are expected to be completed in Summer 2016. Below: The M90 concrete carriageway between Junction 5 and 6 being prepared ahead of new surfacing being applied.

A9 investment tops half a million pounds

In the last six months, over half a million pounds has been invested in footpath and resurfacing works on various parts of the A9. Major footway improvements have been made at Gleneagles to improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists. Works saw the widening of the existing footway on the north side of the A9 from the old access to Gleneagles railway Station to the A824 Auchterarder Junction. The works also included the installation of Pedestrian Activated Electronic warning signs to assist those crossing the A9 as well as improvements to pedestrian crossings and bus stops. Resurfacing works have taken place at numerous sites between Perth and Dunblane, including at Auchterarder, Cairnie Braes, Blueton Farm, Gateside and Windyedge Farm to Forteviot Junction. The resurfacing was mostly carried out overnight to avoid impacting day time traffic. Speaking of the improvements, Andy Thompson, said: “These resurfacing improvements have helped to address defects on the road and improved the general condition and safety of the road for motorists.� From top, clockwise: Teams work to install the new footpath on the A9 at Gleneagles; most of the resurfacing was completed overnight to minimise disruption; new pedestrian warning signs were installed at Gleneagles to promote road safety.


Innovative energy-saving bulbs light up North East

The A92 between Dunfermline and Dundee is to benefit from a new energy-reduction road lighting scheme which will see over 417 street lights replaced with new technology using low energy LEDs this summer. The works are part of a £500,000 street lighting investment for the North East and will enable lighting levels to be varied during the darker hours when traffic levels are lower so that the lighting is appropriate for the local environment. It will also see lighting units connected to a communications system to allow the lights to be monitored and managed remotely. Within the NE unit over 415 lanterns have been replaced with this new technology to date, and a further 600 lanterns are programmed to be replaced across the network this year. The new technology will provide savings of up to 68% in energy usage and reduce annual running costs and maintenance requirements. Additional benefits include a life expectancy of 25 years and lower anticipated fault rate when compared to traditional road lights. The introduction of the new LED lights across the North East follows a trial carried out by BEAR Scotland in Elgin in 2011 into the effectiveness of using LED technology instead of the current sodium lights that are predominantly used to illuminate roads throughout Scotland. The trial provided an overwhelming positive acceptance from the community for the LED lights which produce less glare and improved clarity of the street. Commenting on the scheme, Andy Thompson acknowledged how the programme demonstrates BEAR’s commitment to reducing energy costs. “The energy saving costs are anticipated to be recouped in the first eight years of the installation and will continue to provide savings year on year. “The new communication system being installed will allow our teams to adjust the lights remotely to suit the environment and monitor the lights more effectively, meaning defects or issues may be addressed quickly.”

Top: The new LED lanterns on the A9 at Gleneagles Left: Electrical teams working on street lighting refurbishment schemes

School pupils name new BEAR winter fleet

School pupils from seven schools across the north of Scotland helped to name some of BEAR’s new winter fleet through a competition run by Transport Scotland this winter. The seven new names, which included ‘Mrs McGritter’, ‘Sprinkles’ and ‘Sir Grits-a-lot’, were picked by Transport Minister Derek McKay as part of Transport Scotland’s trunk road winter campaign launch for 2015/2016. The seven named vehicles helped to make up 45 state of the art mega-spreaders that served the roads in the north of Scotland across winter, including 22 brand new vehicles. The vehicles will be rolled out again this winter. As part of the competition, pupils were visited by one of BEAR Scotland’s huge 32-tonne spreaders during which members of BEAR’s Winter Team explained how the vehicle plays a key role in helping to keep people safe each year on Scotland’s trunk roads. Around a dozen schools from across Scotland took part to name winter spreaders in their area, with seven chosen from across BEAR Scotland’s North West, North East and M80 areas. Visitors to the Riverside Transport Museum in Glasgow also had the chance to take part in naming one of the new vehicles, with the winning name ‘Gritty Gritty Bang Bang’ selected for a spreader in the North East. Speaking about the competition, Andy Thompson, said: “We had a great response from the schools that were involved with the competition, with some excellent entries submitted. “Our teams that visited the schools all commented on how the pupils were taking on board the information about how our winter operatives help keep the trunk roads clear of ice and snow. “Each year we prepare for the winter ahead but would ask motorists to play their part by looking out for forecasts, ensuring they plan ahead before setting off and ensuring they leave in plenty of time and that their vehicle is adequately equipped with emergency supplies.”

From left, clockwise: Some of the colourful entries for the competition, Gritty Gritty Bang Bang can be spotted on the A9, nursery pupils from Aberlour Primary School enjoyed the visit, Port Elphinstone Pupils with one of the 32-tonne spreaders.


Community involvement Our teams play an active part in the communities in which we work. Part of that is a commitment to charity fundraising and taking part in team initiatives. Here are a few recent examples:

Adrenaline-packed race raises thousands for heart charity Two teams from BEAR Scotland topped and tailed the annual white-water rafting race down the River Tay in aid of Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland in March. Starting in Aberfeldy, the race sees crews of eight navigate a fivemile stretch of the River Tay ending with the rapids at Grandtully. Competing against six other teams, BEAR took both the top spot and eighth place in this year’s race. Althogether they raised more than £2,650 for the charity. This was the eighth year that BEAR has supported the event. To mark its contribution, the company was presented with a special Outstanding Support Award for raising over £15,000 for the charity. Above: Captain Dave Wright with First Place Trophy and Outstanding Support Award. Top right: Teams get ready to take the plunge

“We were honoured to accept an award from Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and everyone who has been involved in fundraising such a huge amount for such a worthy cause should all be very proud,” said Andy Thompson.

BEAR steps in to help Cubs (and Scouts and Beavers!) Freuchie Scout Hall lies at the end of a narrow lane off the main street through the village. The footpath had been deteriorating for some time, resulting in lots of muddy Cubs, Beavers and Scouts – and a muddy hall to clean after meetings. When the 15th Fife (Freuchie) Scout Group approached BEAR Scotland for help, they were delighted to get involved. BEAR teams stepped in after being made aware about the lack of a suitable footpath to the Scout Hall in Freuchie and worked to design and create a new safe and serviceable footpath. After a series of on-site meetings, plans and drawings, the work was carried out over several days in June, and the lane is now transformed. Group Scout Leader David Gordon said “We really can’t express how grateful we are to BEAR Scotland for undertaking this community project. It will make a world of difference in terms of access to the Scout Hall, and will be much safer for all our members, especially during the darker nights in winter.” Above, from left: The original footpath; teams first planed out the old surface; kerbs and a solid foundation were then installed; the team with the newly transformed footpath; members of the 15th Fife (Freuchie) Scout Group were delighted with the new path.


North East Connections - Stakeholder Newsletter - Summer 2016  

Read about the latest news from BEAR Scotland in managing and maintaining trunk roads in the North East of Scotland. In this issue we take...

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