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Work Starts On Bridge Over The Atlantic

Industrial safety supplies often need to be delivered to some remote places, but few more so than in a project to build a new bridge in the Outer Hebrides.

Modular bridge construction firm Mabey has started work on a scheme to replace the Bernera Bridge, which links the islands of Great Bernea and Lewis in the Western Isles across an Atlantic inlet.

The existing bridge has deteriorated and an inspection last August found it was unsafe for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes to use. This led to Comhairle nan Siar Council ordering a replacement.

Mabey’s modular steel delta bridge will be the first of its kind in Scotland, whereas the original crossing, completed in 1953, was the first pre-stressed concrete bridge in Britain.

A key advantage of this method of construction is the speed at which it will be possible to carry it out. While the operation is not without safety risks, the critical period for getting the work done is the summer, before the changing seasons bring severe autumn and winter weather systems across the Atlantic as the North American hurricane season kicks in.

Speaking about the project, Mabey chief executive officer Michael Treacy said the firm is “delighted” to be the first providers of a delta bridge to Scotland and “proud to have been selected to take part in this important project to restore a vital crossing to the benefit of the residents of Great Bernera.”

The bridge is one of two in the Western Isles that might be given the nickname ‘Bridge across the Atlantic’, with the islands of Scalpay and Harris being connected with a bridge completed in 1998. However, the title is normally reserved for the Clachan Bridge, which crosses a narrow channel between Seil Island and the mainland.

Other contenders for the title include the Streymin Bridge in the Faroe Islands, which crosses from Streymoy to Eysturoy over the Sundini Sound.

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