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Turf cutting marks beginning of construction for new Bernera Bridge crossing

The existing Bernera Bridge, which currently has a weight limit. Picture from Shutterstock
The existing Bernera Bridge, which currently has a weight limit. Picture from Shutterstock

Turf has been cut on the site of a future £500,000 bridge linking a small Hebridean island to Lewis.

Preliminary work on the crossing between Great Bernera and the largest of the Western Isles began just over a month ago, but the start of construction on the site marks a major milestone in the much-anticipated project.

A 7.5 tonne weight restriction was placed on the the existing Bernera Bridge in August last year, after it was discovered to be deteriorating badly.

The replacement bridge, which is steel trussed, is to be provided by Gloucestershire-based firm Mabey Bridge and will sit on concrete abutments.

The Bernera Bridge sits in a stunning landscape. Picture from Shutterstock

The timeline for the project has slipped, with the Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) now saying completion is “currently scheduled for the end of July 2021”.

A spokesman for the council told the P&J last month: “Current estimates indicate the bridge will be in place by the end of June.”

The installation of the crossing will involve the assembled bridge elements being “pushed” from the south abutment to the north abutment, in what the council promises will be “an interesting spectacle for engineers and non-engineers alike”.

Their statement concludes: “The Comhairle would like to thank the residents of Bernera for their patience, and all those who are helping maintain essential services to the Island during this period of restricted access.”

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