Bridge of Wester is where the A99 crosses the River of Wester, which flows from the Loch of Wester which is a short distance west of the road, to the sea which is less than a mile to the east. There are four bridges crossing the river at this location, an old road bridge, the current road and two which are part of a fabrication site which assembles under-sea pipelines on a site which runs 7 km in a straight line inland from the shore.
The original stone bridge
The original bridge carrying the road over the river stands upstream of the others and is stone bridge with two arches, built between 1830 and 1835 to a design by Thomas Telford.
It appears from mapping evidence that this bridge was superseded by a new bridge on the alignment of the current road, which removes two sharp bends on the approaches to the stone bridge, in the 1970s.
The lifting bridge crossing the pipeline assembly track
The newest bridge replaced the bridge that was previously in the same location as it when it was opened in 1994. It crosses the railway track on which pipelines are assemble at the point where it crosses the river on a bridge below the road bridge. This is a two span bridge with a central pier in the river. The north span, which crosses the pipeline tracks, is a lifting bridge which lift to allow large structures which form part of the pipeline to pass under the road when they are launched out to sea. This can be required to happen several times a year, depending on the work carried out at the site. The bridge is named the McKelvie Bridge after Malcolm McKelvie who was an executive of the company operating the yard when the site was developed and the bridge built.
Video showing the bridge in use when a pipline is lauched