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Keeping it simple

Lairig Eilde bridge

Working with architect Rick Russell, Jacobs Babtie design engineer John Redpath came up with four options for the new bridge - a curved simply supported bridge deck, a shallow arched structure, a straight-deck structure with two twin piers and a cable stayed bridge with offset pylons.

The rst of these came out the winner. 'We decided on the simplest design which wouldn't compete with the scenery and would blend in with the topography, ' says Redpath.

The original structure was clad in natural stone, in an effort to 'blend in with the scenery', but Scottish Natural Heritage was reportedly not a big fan of this. The new bridge deck is tapered at either end in cross-section so it appears even less imposing when viewed from the side.

Two piers are bedded in rock straddling the River Coe creating the effect of the bridge 'leaping across the river instead of clambering', says Redpath.

The result, admit the engineers, is not the most exciting civil engineering, but is clearly the more sensitive to its surroundings: 'It's a look from me sort of structure, not a look at me structure, ' says BEAR Scotland consultancy manager Brian Gordon.

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