Ruthven Bridge replacement preparations get underway

Further to discussions with the Contractor, it is anticipated that the Ruthven Bridge will be closed from the end of July, for a period of around 6 weeks, to allow work to be done on the £1m project to replace the bridge.

Proposals for the bridgeworks require removal of the existing bridge superstructure, and installation of a replacement. The construction work will require a closure of the B970 road, at the bridge.

The deterioration of Ruthven Bridge has affected its load carrying capacity, to the extent that its use has had to be restricted to vehicles weighing not more than 3 Tonnes. This is a measure intended to protect the bridge, and its users, until the proposed replacement work can be undertaken. However it is not something which can be sustained over an extended period, in view of the serious risk that further deterioration could lead to partial or total failure of the bridge. In the interim, a regime of monitoring inspection and survey has been implemented.

During the period of road closure, a public road diversion for light vehicles will be signed, via the River Spey crossing at Kincraig. Heavy vehicles already have to divert via Aviemore.

In view of the inconvenience and additional travel distance associated with the public road diversion route, local people and organisations requested consideration of temporary local alternatives. A temporary bridge crossing, adjacent to the existing bridge, was not possible, due to the very constrained nature of the site, and the Contractor’s need for working space.

Also proposed was a temporary local alternative route using a private track, a newly constructed section of temporary roadway, and a new temporary junction with the A9 trunk road.

This temporary alternative route across private land has been investigated, and relevant authorities consulted. Whilst, preliminary indications are that the proposal could receive planning permission, the total cost of the temporary route, including design, construction, and land compensation costs, is likely to be in excess of £70,000.

Head of Infrastructure Colin Howell said: “A temporary alternative junction with the A9 has been explored. However, now that costs for this are clearer, it is unlikely that there would be sufficient benefit to justify the costs. Heavier vehicles are already using the diversion route.”

He added: “The Council does not take issues of road closure lightly, and we will endeavour to reduce the impact on the community and local businesses. However, the main issue is the condition of the existing bridge. It is in everyone’s interests to ensure that we replace it before the point is reached where, for safety reasons, it has to be closed immediately to all traffic.

“We had initially anticipated the bridge would be closed for some 12 weeks. However, I am pleased that the contractor is indicating a shorter period of around 6 weeks.

“Local elected Members have been briefed and we are meeting with members of the Community Council to keep them updated.”

Local members added:  “We appreciate that this is disruption at peak time for tourism trade. We regret that the Council has neither the time nor resources to install temporary road access. The safety issues are such that we must act as speedily as possible and members will make sure that the construction is completed as quickly as possible. The new bridge will be a vast improvement for pedestrians and vehicles.”

20 May 2015
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