Wills Bros Secures Contract for Naver Bridge Replacement

The Highland Council has awarded Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd a significant £8 million contract to replace the historic Naver Bridge in Scotland. This infrastructure project, set to commence in August 2024, is aimed at enhancing transport connectivity and safety on the A836 route, which forms part of the iconic North Coast 500. The new bridge will replace the 142-year-old structure, addressing long-standing concerns about its structural integrity and reliability. This initiative underscores the council’s commitment to improving the region’s infrastructure, fostering economic growth, and ensuring the safety of its road networks.

Scope and Specifications

The Naver Bridge replacement project is a comprehensive infrastructure endeavour that involves constructing a 65-meter-long pre-stressed concrete bridge. This new structure will be situated immediately upstream of the existing bridge, which is currently in a state of disrepair. The project also includes realigning 450 meters of approach roads to upgrade them to a single carriageway, thereby improving traffic flow and safety. This realignment is crucial for accommodating the increased traffic anticipated due to the improved road infrastructure​.

Set-up works for the project will commence in August 2024, with the main construction phase starting shortly thereafter. The project is scheduled for completion by autumn 2025, followed by the demolition and removal of the old bridge in winter 2025-2026. Traffic control measures, including the use of traffic lights, will be implemented throughout the construction period to ensure public safety. These steps are necessary to manage the disruption that such a significant construction project will inevitably cause.

Economic and Community Impact

The replacement of the Naver Bridge is expected to provide a substantial economic boost to the local community. It will create numerous construction jobs and support local businesses involved in the project. The economic benefits extend beyond direct employment; improved infrastructure often leads to increased investment and tourism in the area. Councillor Ken Gowans, chair of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, highlighted the project’s significance for the local community and visiting businesses, noting that enhanced infrastructure is crucial for economic growth.

The new bridge will significantly enhance transport links on the A836, a vital route for both local residents and tourists travelling the North Coast 500. This improvement is expected to facilitate better connectivity, reduce travel times, and increase the safety and reliability of the road network. Improved infrastructure in such a scenic area is likely to boost tourism, which in turn supports local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Technical and Environmental Aspects

The new Naver Bridge will employ modern engineering techniques and materials to ensure its durability and resilience. The pre-stressed concrete structure is designed to withstand the harsh environmental conditions typical of the Scottish Highlands, promising a long service life with minimal maintenance requirements. The use of advanced construction materials and techniques will ensure that the bridge remains robust and reliable for decades to come​.

Environmental protection is a key component of the Naver Bridge replacement project. Measures will be taken to minimise the impact on local wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem. The project includes various utility diversions, with Scottish Water and SSE coordinating efforts to maintain essential services. These steps ensure that the environmental footprint of the construction is kept to a minimum while safeguarding the natural habitat. This focus on sustainability is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance of the region​.

Company Background and Previous Projects

Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd has a proven track record in delivering major infrastructure projects across the UK and Ireland. The company’s portfolio includes the successful completion of the A9 dualling programme, which involved upgrading a major roadway to improve traffic flow and safety. Wills Bros’ experience and expertise in handling complex engineering projects make them well-suited for the Naver Bridge replacement, ensuring that the new structure will meet high standards of quality and reliability.

The A9 dualling programme is just one example of Wills Bros’ capability in managing large-scale infrastructure projects. Their work on this project included extensive road realignments, bridge constructions, and the implementation of modern traffic management systems. The company’s commitment to excellence and innovative engineering solutions has earned them a reputation as a leader in the civil engineering industry. This reputation is further solidified by their approach to integrating sustainability and community benefits into their projects​.