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The historic Connel Bridge over the Falls of Lora could get a new, safer walkway outside its steel frame, away from the single lane of trunk road traffic, if plans submitted to Argyll and Bute Council are approved.
Connel Bridge, a category B listed structure, is a cantilever steel bridge taking the A828 road across the narrowest part of Loch Etive, between Connel and North Connel.
It was built by Arrol’s Bridge and Roof Company, the Glasgow engineers who also built the world’s longest-lived giant ferris wheel in Vienna, to carry the Ballachulish branch line of the Callander and Oban Railway, which opened in 1903.
Now though, the applicant BEAR Scotland explains, ‘the traffic flow on the bridge is approximately 4,000 vehicles per day with four per cent HGVs. As the bridge has only one lane, vehicle movements are controlled by traffic lights.
‘The existing walkway is 1.2 metres wide and is frequently used by pedestrians and mounted/dismounted cyclists. The bridge carriageway serves as part of the NCN78 [Caledonia Way National Cycle Route].
‘Cyclists often feel rushed to reach the end of the bridge before the traffic lights change. Some cyclists also choose to use the current bridge walkway, creating hazards for other non-motorised users as they pass.
‘The current walkway width is 1.2 metres next to a live traffic lane. Strong easterly winds may cause pedestrians to lose balance, posing a significant hazard. HGVs pass in close proximity, with only a 120mm kerb providing protection.’
BEAR Scotland is responsible for managing and maintaining over 2,500km of trunk road and 2,750 structures and bridges, ‘making sure the carriageways are safe and sound’.
The company said the proposed walkway, fixed onto the existing steel bridge section, ‘will improve pedestrian safety and cyclists will also be able to dismount and traverse the bridge.
”The proposed walkway will be separate from the carriageway, and will have 1.4-metre-high handrails either side.
‘The handrail will be a similar configuration to the existing bridge’s handrail – a mesh infil design. The colour will match the existing bridge colour.
‘The walkway will be made of steel and possibly aluminium construction, with a layer of non-slip GRP [Glass Reinforced Plastic] flooring.
‘A walking width of 1.5 metres (minimum) will be provided with passing places further implemented to allow passing of wheelchair users and pushchairs.’
The walkway, on the eastern side, will also ‘provide a diversion route for the public while the existing bridge footway is closed for bridge maintenance’.