Engineers escape injury as lorry strikes bridge

Oban Times reader Fiona Tindall sent in this photo of the lorry that struck Connel Bridge.

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Safety engineers were carrying out a routine inspection on Connel Bridge when a lorry struck it.

No one was hurt but the bridge on the A823 had to be shut to traffic and pedestrians while the HGV, which hit one of the overhead beams, had to reverse off.

It happened at around noon last Wednesday and stayed closed for just over an hour. The incident sparked 31 comments on Oban and Lorn Road Watch’s Facebook page.

Queuing traffic on the Connel side was backed up to Poppies Garden Centre  and pedestrians trying to cross it were told to go back and wait.

Ann Gunn posted: ‘How many times does it need to be hit before it’s badly damaged and closed for a long time. Time there was a height barrier put up.’

Last December a lorry struck the bridge, forcing a 90-minute detours via Glencoe while engineers checked the structure.

A spokeswoman for BEAR Scotland confirmed a HGV had struck one of the overhead beams in the latest incident.

‘The bridge was closed while the HGV was recovered, and the bridge checked for safety and assessed for any damage by engineers who were already at Connel Bridge completing a routine annual bridge inspection on behalf of BEAR Scotland. Once it was assessed for safety, Police Scotland reopened the bridge at around 1.50pm,’ she said.

Bridge engineers have been inspecting the bridge since late July using rope-access to get beneath it and check everything is safe and to plan maintenance for the year ahead.

BEAR Scotland says it will keep reviewing road safety options at the location. Transport Scotland has already said increasing the height clearance is among upgrade options for the bridge over the next five years.

‘At present, there are advanced signs warning motorists of the restricted height access on Connel Bridge, as well as an automatic flashing warning sign that is triggered when a vehicle in excess of the restriction approaches the bridge. We will continue to review all options with regard to improving road safety at this location,’ said the BEAR Scotland spokeswoman.

Earlier this year  concerns about the bridge’s lifespan were raised at Ardchattan Community Council. Members wanted to know  if Transport Scotland had a replacement plan.