Drochaid an Lochaidh
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Crossings related to the A830|
Lochybridge, also known as Victoria Bridge, spans the River Lochy on the northern edge of Fort William, providing the only real link to the town and beyond from the A830. Immediately to the east of the bridge, the A830 meets the A82 at the Lochybridge Junction.
This crossing point of the River Lochy was originally established as the most important one by Thomas Telford when he was constructing his Highland Roads. The first road built, in 1805, as part of this commission was the Arisaig Road, which left the old military road at Lochybridge and headed west. However, Telford decided that a bridge at this location was not necessary, instead improving the ferry service across the river.
Whilst the ferry may have been sufficient in the first instance, as the new road brought a lot more traffic that way a bridge slowly became essential. As such, James Dredge was asked to construct one of his novel Suspension Bridges across the Lochy to replace the ferry. This was built at a similar time to the Bridge of Oich further north in the Great Glen, which opened in 1854.
By 1928, the bridge was beginning to show its age, and so a new deck was inserted into the structure. The new deck was no longer supported by the suspension cables, but instead was a reinforced concrete structure supported on cylindrical concrete piers in the riverbed. This conversion was designed by Sir Owen Williams, but photos of the bridge after the conversion seem scarce, so it is difficult to know exactly how much of the original structure survived. It is known that the arched piers at either end were retained.
Obviously, this narrow old bridge with its stone arches across the roadway was not fit for modern traffic, so after roughly a century the old bridge was replaced with the current structure in the 1960s. The bridge now carries three lanes of traffic, instead of the one lane in the past, with two eastbound lanes on the approach to the Lochybridge Junction.
Immediately to the east of the bridge is the Lochybridge Junction. This was controlled by traffic lights for many years, however with the construction of a new cycle track from Aonach Mor into Fort William (just) in time for the Mountain Bike World Cup event in 2007, the traffic signals were replaced by a mini roundabout. This had undoubtedly improved traffic flow at the junction, where the main movement is between the A830 and the A82 to Fort William.
In Spring 2012, the junction was upgraded to a full roundabout, with land in front of the Ben Nevis Distillery being used for the new larger junction. Whilst the new roundabout is undoubtedly an improvement, no additional land has been found to widen the approaches on the A82. Indeed, the southern approach, from Fort William appears to be narrower, so that the split for the turning lanes is now only one car long rather than the two previously. Whether this slows traffic or not is uncertain, but it is certainly a major bugbear locally.
The development of the new roundabout has been precipitated by the imminent construction of a new Tesco Superstore on the Blar Mhor, a few hundred metres west along the A830. Calls for the construction of the Caol Link Road have also been renewed to better link the Blar developments with the existing town centre.
|Inverness , Kyle of Lochalsh (A87)|
|Town Centre, Crianlarich|
|Mallaig, Caol 1, Banavie 1¼, Corpach 2, Glenfinnan 15||34 miles. Low Bridge. 4.1m. 13'6"|