Urgent repair work to a historic double masonry arch bridge in Scotland is to start before Christmas.

BEAR Scotland, Trunk Road operator working on behalf of Transport Scotland, is continuing with work this week at Aray Bridge on the A83 immediately north of Inveraray in Argyll and Bute.

The bridge experienced a huge flow of water from the River Aray on October 7 and 8 this year following 160mm of rain in 36 hours - the same weather event that caused several landslides nearby at Glen Kinglas and caused issues across the road network including a landslide on the A816 south of Oban.

Whilst the main structure of Aray Bridge was undamaged, BEAR has been clearing a large number of trees from the river and assessing damage around the stone apron of the structure. 

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A plan is now in place to undertake urgent repair work to protect the integrity of the bridge, which was built in 1776 and operates under traffic signal control due to its narrow width.

The work will be undertaken in two phases:-

Phase 1 – immediate protection works, backfilling a scoured area at the bridge apron and installing steel sheet piles to protect against further scour. Preparatory works have now commenced and will be completed before Christmas.

Phase 2 – permanent repair and replacement of the stone pitched apron under the full structure and permanent repair of the apron.  This work will start in early 2024 when appropriate design work is completed and environmental licenses are in place.

During Phase 1, the permanent traffic signals at the bridge operate as normal although there may be short off-peak restrictions for the off-loading of deliveries to the site using Stop/Go boards. This will be arranged to minimise traffic disruption. 

Ian Stewart, Operating Company Representative for BEAR Scotland in the North West area said. “The storm on the 7 and 8 of October this year brought an enormous amount of rainfall to the Argyll and Bute area and caused significant problems on both local and trunk roads in the area.

The Herald: Aray Bridge on the A83 near InverarayAray Bridge on the A83 near Inveraray (Image: BEAR Scotland)

"Aray Bridge coped tremendously well despite being 247 years old. Whilst the main structure remains in good condition the protective apron to the central pier has experienced considerable scour which needs urgent repair.  

"The work will be undertaken from the riverbed during low tide but deliveries from the roadside may require short duration restrictions.

"The nature of the work is such that we will be undertaking the repair as quickly as possible and will return in early 2024 to complete a more extensive permanent repair to the paved riverbed and apron, future-proofing the structure for years to come.

"We thank those travelling on the A83 for their patience during the work.”