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A82 to reopen this morning after rock fall

The rocks which fell on the A82 in March
The rocks which fell on the A82 in March

The A82 is due to reopen this morning, four days after a rock fall closed the busy trunk road.

Engineers from Bear Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) worked throughout the weekend to make a hillside safe after two large rocks tumbled down a slope and landed on the carriageway on Thursday.

Drivers were left facing a 120-mile detour.

The road is now expected to reopen at around 6am this morning after new temporary catch fencing was placed on the steep hillside.

However, an assessment of the embankment found that future work would be needed to make the area secure in the long term.

The two large rocks which fell on to the Inverness-Fort William road on Loch Ness-side were removed over the weekend- while two more boulders, which each weighed about six tonnes each, which had remained on the hillside, had to be broken up.

It is thought they were dislodged after an oak tree fell further up the slope and landed on a boulder field.

The operation was described as a “very challenging and dangerous job” by FCS, which is undertaking a major programme to improve the safety of embankments along the A82.

Work was not due to start on the affected hillside until September.

Workers had to use ropes and harnesses to instal new catch fencing because of the steepness of the slope.

Helicopters had to be used to drop material and equipment on to the site.

Alex McLeod, the Forestry Commission’s steep ground programme manager, said:

“The immediate issue has been dealt with and made safe.

“I would like to thank local residents and road users for their patience – and their ongoing support for our programme.

“I would especially like to thank and commend Bear Scotland and Police Scotland for their assistance over these last few days.

“Our geo-technical consultants, Geo-rope, have also put in an amazing effort. Not only did they very quickly redeploy from another site to deal with this emergency but also they were able at very short notice to draw on significant resources to complete the job safely and on schedule.

“It has been a fantastic effort on a very challenging and dangerous job.”

“However, during a final inspection that included areas of the hillside higher up the slope, it was clear that there are other areas of concern.

“We were scheduled to come to this site in September but in light of recent events we will liaise with our Geo-technical contractors, and the consultant engineers from Mott McDonald, to review our operations plan.”

Northbound drivers have been diverted along the A86 from Spean Bridge before following the A9 to Inverness and then back along the A82 towards Loch Ness if necessary.

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