In the 356 days since BEAR Scotland took over responsibility for the trunk roads in South East Scotland, it has delivered over £26.7m of investment in safety, surfacing and other improvements and recruited over 100 new staff in addition to those who transferred from the previous operating companies.
On 16 August 2020 BEAR Scotland began an eight-year contract to manage and maintain the trunk road network in South East Scotland on behalf of Transport Scotland, covering 506km of trunk roads from central Scotland to the Scottish Borders, as well as 757 bridges and structures including the iconic Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge.
The contract started in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and just days after a section of the A68 trunk road at Fala collapsed in a landslip during torrential rain. The first job was therefore to rebuild the road and get it reopened as quickly as possible. It was fully reopened within four weeks.
According to BEAR, schemes worth £26.7m in total have been delivered to renew surfacing, improve safety and address defects on key routes across South East Scotland such as the M8, M9, A720 Edinburgh City Bypass, A1, A7, A68, A702 and A985.
Inspections and upgrades have been carried out on structures throughout the region, including a major project to strengthen bridge supports over the M8 at Junction 3. Work to replace the main expansion joints on the southbound carriageway of the Forth Road Bridge was completed in December 2020, with work on the northbound side on track for completion later this year.
BEAR was also responsible for keeping trunk routes running as safely as possible throughout the harshest winter in ten years. There were 36 snow days when ploughing was required. A total of 3,686 treatments were carried out, with approximately 30,000 tonnes of salt used on roads and footways and 850,000 litres of chemical de-icer sprayed on the four major bridges in the unit.
BEAR is committed to playing an active role in the communities in which it operates. It the last year it has supported a number of charity and community initiatives:
- Charities such as Cash for Kids, Steps to Hope and My Name’5 Doddie have been supported, with over £11,000 in funding and volunteer time being donated to good causes
- Donations of litter picking equipment and resources have been provided to West Lothian Litter Pickers and Plastic Free Fife
- 850 primary and ASN schools were invited to nominate names for BEAR Scotland’s brand new gritter fleet and design a winter logo
- 300 secondary school pupils benefited from STEM education initiatives delivered by BEAR and the Engineering Development Trust
- 60 secondary pupils and 30 primary school pupils benefited from bridges materials and presentations.
BEAR is committed to reducing its carbon footprint:
- 10% of BEAR Scotland’s fleet in the South East is now fully electric powered – a total of 13 vehicles, which the company has committed to increase to 20 by 2025
- A fully electric powered excavator was trialled on trunk roads in the Scottish Borders
- Two schemes on the A702 used Tarmac Ultifoam, a cold recycling process which allowed BEAR to recycle over 1,100 tonnes of waste materials that would traditionally have been sent to landfill
- Approximately 4,200 tonnes of material was saved over three schemes on the M9 and A1 by using a sustainable ‘crack and seat’ technique to introduce a series of hairline cracks to distribute the strain more evenly and extend the life of the lower layers of the road.
Andy Thompson, BEAR Scotland’s Operating Company Representative for the South East Unit, said: “When you look at what we’ve achieved in the last year you can’t help but be extremely proud of the entire team. Not least because of the challenge of taking on such a significant responsibility in the middle of a global pandemic, which posed the additional challenges of ensuring safe working conditions on site and remotely integrating over 250 new staff transferring into the company.”
BEAR has depots in the region at Rosyth, Queensferry, Bonnyrigg, Burghmuir near Linlithgow, St Boswells and Chryston near Moodiesburn. The company is also looking to develop a depot at Eyemouth offering further local job opportunities.