The Highland Council and the contractor for the Inverness West Link Stage 2 Project RJ McLeod have confirmed that the new Torvean Swing Bridge will open to traffic during the afternoon of Thursday 1 July following the comprehensive testing and commissioning phase.
The bridge has been opened as part of the commissioning process over the last few weeks to allow for systems to be fine-tuned and painting work under and on the bridge to be carried out as well as training of the Scottish Canals staff on the use of the new bridge, which is now complete.
From today it will be fully operation and will work in tandem with the existing Tomnahurich swing bridge.
This tandem bridge arrangement will allow for the free flow of vehicle traffic on the A82 to continue, while boats pass through one or other of the open swing bridges.
Operation of the bridges will be managed from a new control building located on the canal side between the two bridges.
There will normally be two routes available for vehicles to cross the canal and vehicles will be diverted over one or other bridge, only while the other is open to allow boat passage.
There will still be ongoing landscaping and siteworks for the next couple of weeks as the area is cleared of the site compound and offices but this will not affect the operation of the bridge.
Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson has been regularly visiting the site to see the different stages of the bridge’s construction.
Following the news that the bridge will be fully operational she said:
“The new swing bridge, along with the wider West Link infrastructure improvements, is a game changer for commuters and visitors to the city.
“The bridge will play an important role in reducing traffic delays and waiting times as the Caledonian Canal waterway continues to become more and more popular.
“We now have uninterrupted flow of traffic across the canal which will be a welcome improvement for all who use the A82.
“Despite the halt in works caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns the last piece of the West Link jigsaw is now fully operational.
“I am delighted we have been able to deliver this key element with such minimal delay and on budget.
“I would like to thank all our staff and contractors involved for their hard work and commitment to keeping this important project on track.
“I have found it very interesting to watch the various stages of the works progress so to have the swing bridge fully in use is excellent news.”
The swing bridge represents a core element of the transformational West Link Project and it’s opening marks the completion of the Project that has been made possible through investment by The Highland Council and the £315m Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.
The City-Region Deal included £135m from the Scottish Government, supported by £127m from Highland Council and its partners and another £53m from the UK Government.
The West Link project has delivered a greatly improved infrastructure to support the future development, growth and prosperity of Inverness and the Highlands.
It has included the completion of the link from the Southern Distributor Road at Dores Road to the A82 including crossing the River Ness on the new Holm Mills Bridge; new sports facilities at Canal Parks including synthetic pitch and clubhouse; and a relocated golf course.
The benefits of the West Link project include:
Reduced congestion at key junctions for both public transport and private cars within Inverness City Centre
Encouragement of cycling and walking within the city centre by reducing congestion thereby making for a safer and more pleasant environment
Improved journey times for movements to/from the west of the City
Torvean Bridge is opened to canal traffic.
It will also improve response times for emergency vehicles and bus journey time reliability
Enable the development of significant areas for housing and other economic development at Ness-side and Torvean.
To date 1,500 houses have been enabled
Enable the development of a City Gateway at the Caledonian Canal entrance to the city, working with partners such as Scottish Canals
Provides a new facility at Canal Parks, managed by Highlife Highland, for Highland Rugby Club and the wider community
Provides a reconfiguration of Torvean Golf Course, with enhanced facilities, golf development potential and a centralised location
Speaking about the Inverness West Link Project, the Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said:
“I am sure everyone who lives in or visits Inverness will be delighted with the way the West Link project enhances the travelling experience for motorists, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.
“In addressing the alleviation of traffic congestion, it has opened up new walking, cycling and leisure facilities for everyone to enjoy including a new canal-side public park area with a dedicated 5km parkrun route that I am sure will prove to be very popular.
“The Benefit to Cost Ratio of the West Link project is 3.86, which represents nearly £4 of benefit to every £1 of public investment.
“It is a win/win situation.
“The relocation of the golf club has released much needed land for housing and commercial development which will play a part in regenerating this scenic area of the city.
“West Link has opened up new opportunities for local residents, businesses and visitors to the City of Inverness.
“It reflects our aspirations and confirms our commitment to creating active travel routes and creating more sites for commercial use and housing where it is needed.
“The whole project has been a huge achievement and everyone involved should feel very proud of their work.”