ON THE ROAD S TA K E H O L D E R N E W S L E TT E R
NORTH WEST SUMMER
ON THE COVER: Teams resurface the A85 Newhouse Roundabout on the Crieff Road, outside of Perth as part of a Â£440,000 improvement programme.
Welcome to our latest newsletter highlighting the work being done by BEAR Scotland and our supply chain across the North West Trunk Road Unit. It looks back over the last six months or so where we have had the challenges of winter weather. We have experienced ice, snow, rain and wind but we still managed to achieve a whole host of improvements to north west roads and bridges.
Eddie Ross, BEAR The period started with Storms Desmond, Frank and Henry causing a variety of issues Scotland’s North West across our trunk roads in the north west. This of course highlights the need for continued Operating Company investment in improving the resilience of these sections of our network and that will indeed Representative be a focus in the year ahead. Bridges are vital structures on our roads and require regular inspection and improvement. I’m delighted to see the A830 bridge replacement programme moving apace with two more bridges completed and two further started on site at Arieniskill and Ranochan near Glenfinnan along with a wide range of other bridge improvements across the north west. Our road resurfacing works on the A85 Crieff Road in Perth required very detailed consideration of phasing and an extensive communications strategy due to the busy nature of the location. I was pleased to see it being completed without major disruption to road users which is testament to the planning work of our BEAR team and our sub-contractor Breedon Aggregates. Our road safety team of five engineers continue their quest to reduce accidents on our roads with innovative solutions which I’m convinced will make a real difference. Staff across our depots have also worked well with local communities with a focus on education. Our hope is that some of the school children that we have introduced to engineering may one day join us as our engineers of the future. I hope you find the newsletter interesting and we’d be delighted to receive feedback or answer any questions you may have in future editions of On The Road.
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Winter storms impact the North West
Winter in the North West Unit brings many challenges and the winter of 15/16 was no different. A number of storms caused disruption across trunk roads and BEAR Scotland teams remained on high alert during periods of adverse weather to tackle whatever challenges came our way. Storm Desmond brought two landslips on both the A82 near Spean Bridge and at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful in early December, along with a number of flooding incidents. The 2000 tonne landslip at the Rest was successfully caught in the special landslip mitigation fences, meaning only a small fraction of slurry due to the large volume of material managed to reach the road. Storm Frank hit just before New Year and also brought itâ€™s own challenges to almost every trunk road in the North West. Flooding affected the A82, A84, A85 and A87 with landslips also blocking the A83, A85 and the A835. The average rainfall for December in the area is usually 350mm, and over 720mm was recorded at the Rest during the month. Teams worked hard to tackle all incidences and all routes were soon opened just in time for Hogmanay. Following the landslip during Storm Frank, a large 150-tonne boulder was exposed on the hill side some 175m above the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful. The boulder was considered unsafe and the road was temporarily closed whilst geotechnical specialists assessed the slope to consider how to make the rock safe. The Old Military Road was used as an alternative diversion route for trunk road traffic to help minimise disruption. Special rock-breaking explosives were inserted into 30 holes that were drilled into the rock to break it into pieces which were considered stable and safe on the hillside, with the A83 reopened soon after. The boulder attracted national media coverage with multiple news teams on site covering the story. Throughout these events good use was made of our North West BEAR twitter feed, @NWTrunkRoads, keeping followers updated at all times. Follow us if you want to be kept aware during future events. Finally, Storm Henry brought high winds and heavy rain to parts of the network at the beginning of February with many major bridges restricting traffic for safety. A small landslip on the A82 at Letterfindlay temporarily closed the road, along with restrictions applied to the A82 through Glencoe due to the high winds creating problems for motorists. Teams once again worked round the clock to clear the effects of Storm Henry and open routes as soon as possible. Clockwise from Top Left: Flooding affected the A82 at Letterfindlay during Storm Henry; The 150 tonne boulder was located 175m above the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful; Approximately 200 tonnes of material reached the A83 following heavy rains brought in by Storm Frank at the Rest and Be Thankful; a 2000 tonne landslip was successfully caught in special netting at the Rest and Be Thankful during Storm Desmond.
Next phase of £10M bridge replacement programme underway
Two more bridges are set to be replaced on one of Scotland’s most scenic routes as part of a £10 million bridge replacement project on the A830. BEAR engineers have recently completed designs to replace Ranochan and Arieniskill bridges after teams completed the six-month construction of Utha and Garbh bridges in December last year. Construction of the new Ranochan and Arieniskill Bridges, six and nine miles west of Glenfinnan, respectively, is programmed to begin in the summer and completed over a seven month period. The new structures on the route will provide a widened carriageway and increased safety barrier protection to improve traffic safety. Nine bridges in all will be replaced or renewed under the Transport Scotland programme over the next few years. Dearg Bridge was the first to be re-built in January 2015. Due to the narrow width of the A830, temporary bridges are installed as a diversion for traffic whilst the new bridges are constructed. The temporary bridge used at Dearg was re-used for the diversion during the Garbh works, and will be used for future projects such as the work at Arieniskill. The A830 runs parallel to the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct that has featured in the Harry Potter films. From top (clockwise): Completed Garbh Bridge; Utha Bridge in the snow, temporary bridges being lowered into position; construction took six months at each location.
The new bridge designs recycle as much of the old structures as possible while resolving the complex environmental challenges posed by each location. They are low-maintenance bridges designed to last for many years to come.
Over £2.6M invested in Cromarty Bridge
Cromarty Bridge spans over the Cromarty Firth and carries the A9 north of Inverness to Thurso in the north of Scotland. This year alone over £2.6million has been invested in Cromarty Bridge, with further investment planned for the structure over the next five years. Replacement of Cromarty Bridge’s aluminium parapets is well underway with over 1500m installed so far, and a further 1500m due to be replaced throughout the summer, greatly improving safety on the bridge. The new investment also allowed for protection works to be carried out on six piers of the bridge in the tidal estuary. This involved the installation of rock armour around the pier foundations, with teams working from a floating barge in the Cromarty Firth to carry out the work. To allow teams to complete the scour repairs, the bridge had to be closed on two occasions overnight to allow a manoeuvre of the barge beneath the bridge deck. A large 50-tonne crane and accompanying vehicles assisted in moving the barge which involved lifting the spud legs, which stabilise the barge, from one side, sailing the barge underneath the bridge deck, before lowering the spud legs back into position on the other side of the bridge. This meant teams were able to access the required areas from beneath the bridge to continue with the scour protection works. The multi-million pound investment is continuing for Cromarty Bridge with further improvements planned over the next few years, and reflect BEAR and Transport Scotland’s ongoing commitment to maintaining structures in the north west of Scotland, typically spending £11 million per year. From Top: Cromarty Bridge was closed to allow a 50-tonne crane to lift the spud legs that anchor the barge benath the bridge deck. Middle: Operatives helped guide the spud legs into position. Below: Once lowered into the barge teams helped to secure them into place.
A85 Crieff Road ÂŁ440,000 upgrade
A programme of major improvements was carried out to the A85 Crieff Road on the outskirts of Perth starting in April this year. The ÂŁ440,000 investment from Transport Scotland allowed teams to carry out a variety of works at the busy Newhouse and A9/A85 Interchange Roundabouts, as well as two busy junctions into superstores on the edge of the city. The improvements included resurfacing both roundabouts and junctions, upgrades to the kerbs, the application of a new high-friction road surface to improve motorist safety, traffic signal upgrades to enhance vehicle detection, and the installation of new toucan crossings for pedestrians and cyclists looking to cross the busy road. To keep disruption to a minimum, the majority of works were carried out overnight in a phased approach to avoid impact to motorists as much as possible. Overnight road closures were required during the first two phases of the works involving the two busy roundabouts, and efforts were made to communicate the diversions to a wide range of stakeholders including residents, community councils, transport operators, councillors, local businesses and Perth and Kinross Council. Special plans were made to accommodate local buses during the closures, with some late evening services escorted through the works to ensure the impact on the services was minimal, as well as ensuring access was maintained to the 24-hour superstore. The Crieff Road resurfacing improvements took place over nine nights with electrical works carried out in May to upgrade the traffic signals and pedestrian crossings. Top: The resurfacing improvements took place overnight to minimise disruption. Left: Nosier operations were carried out earlier in the evenings to minimise disruption to neighbours.
Ice-warning signs a first for trunk roads
The first electronic ice warning signs to be installed on trunk roads in Scotland were put into use in February. The electronic signs were installed on the A835 between Gorstan and Braemore after a road safety study identified a high number of accidents occurred during snow and ice conditions, particularly in the vicinity of Braemore and Aultguish. The study also highlighted how the characteristics and weather conditions of the route can change quickly, particularly for southbound traffic, as motorists travel from near sea level at Loch Broom to 260m above sea level at Aultguish. Using special sensors that monitor the road surface temperatures, the signs were designed to be interactive and activate only when vehicles approach at times when road surface conditions were below freezing point. In addition to our 24/7 programme of winter salt treatments, the new signs will help to warn motorists that ice conditions may be present and enhance road safety.
Cyclepath safety innovation
Road Safety teams from BEAR Scotland have designed an innovative solution to promote cyclist safety on a cyclepath next to the A9. Unique LED bricks were installed on the A9 Inveralmond cyclepath surface to provide route delineation during the hours of darkness to encourage cyclists to use the path instead of cycling on the adjacent dual carriageway. The bricks were installed in December and mark the first time the product has been used on a trunk road cyclepath, but also the first time used in Scotland. The bricks are charged during daylight and activate during darkness, helping to provide a sustainable method of promoting cyclist safety. Right: The LED bricks sit flush wiith the path surface and offer a subtle but effective delination strategy.
Community Involvement Our teams live in and 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:
BEAR teams take the plunge for charity
Two teams from BEAR Scotland took part in an annual white water rafting race down the River Tay in aid of Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland in March. Starting in Aberfeldy, the race involved teams of eight racing down a five mile stretch of the River Tay and ends by tackling the rapids at Grandtully. This year’s race saw BEAR take on six other teams, ending with BEAR taking both the top spot and eighth place. Together the company raised over £2650 for the charity to support the fantastic work they do in Scotland. This year marked the eighth year that BEAR has supported the annual event for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, and the company was presented with a special Outstanding Support Award for raising over £15,000 for the charity. The award is a huge credit to all involved for raising such a tremendous amount over the years.
Engineering the future in Inverness
BEAR Engineers Ken Hossack, Brian MacDonald and John MacLennan took part in this year’s Highland Celebration of Engineering and Science event held at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness in March. The team set a two-part STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) challenge for high school pupils. The challenge involved a practical element whereby each pupil was timed ‘driving’ three laps of a Scalextric track, followed by a second part involving a mental challenge where the pupils were given the task of calculating the relative speed of a full size car travelling around a scaled up track. Afterwards pupils were asked to consider why the car always flew off the track on the bends, what caused this, and how we reduce the effects of this by ‘super-elevating’ bends as part of roads design and construction. The challenge was well received by pupils and teachers alike during the event in Inverness.
Meeting the next generation of Engineers at Ruthvenfield Primary School
One of our graduate engineers, Theo Spinoulas, attended Ruthvenfield Primary School near Perth for a Careers Event held earlier this year. He did a short presentation to P4, P5, P6 and P7 pupils about future careers within the roads industry, providing an overview on what BEAR does in the North East and North West contracts and more specifically on engineering, the reasons why he became a Civil Engineer, and the challenges that he faces in his daily job. Pupils took a great interest in what Theo and BEAR do, with some even writing to him to say that they would like to be an engineer when they grow up!
Published on Aug 3, 2016
Read about BEAR Scotland's work in managing and maintaining trunk roads in the North West of Scotland. In this issue we visit the latest ro...