A picture of a new Bernera Bridge has been posted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as an ‘illustrative example’ of how a replacement structure might look.
The existing bridge has been closed to vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes since 19 August, following structural assessment work which revealed dangerous weaknesses.
The weight restriction has been in place since then and has led to reorganisation of services including fuel delivery and bin collection.
A statement from the Comhairle today (Monday 7 September) said: “The Comhairle is working with local contractors and UK suppliers to determine the extent of works required and timescale for construction.”
Among the new arrangements needed to work round the weight restriction, the Comhairle have had to hire a bin collection lorry which can cross the bridge.
From the next refuse collection tomorrow (Tuesday 8 September) bins will be collected in two waves, since non-recyclable and food and garden waste can’t be mixed. Instead the vehicle will visit each property twice to collect the waste types separately.
In the first week after the weight limit was in place, the work-round for bin collection saw a massive community effort from island residents, Bernera Community Council and Bernera Community Association, who put muscle-power together with invaluable local knowledge to shift all the bins across the bridge for emptying on the Lewis side of the Atlantic.
Other adjustments include Scottish Fuels now using a 2000-litre bowser, starting last Wednesday (2 September) to make fuel deliveries on Bernera.
And boat-owners have been notified that marine gas oil is not currently available from the fuel tank at Kirkibost Pier. Mariners are instead advised to use one of two alternative tanks, at Miavaig pier and Carloway Pier, until the situation is resolved.
Pictures show the Comhairle’s illustration of a possible new bridge structure, the new refuse collection vehicle (CnES) and the scene on bin collection day, 25 August (Zero Waste Western Isles).