Single lorry fire will inflict days of disruption on thousands of drivers
DRIVERS on the main road to the Highlands are likely to face several more days of traffic disruption following a lorry blaze on the busy route in the early hours of yesterday.
The fire on the A9 Perth to Inverness road at Metal Bridge, a mile south of the Slochd summit, caused traffic chaos and long queues for 12 hours before the carriageway was partially reopened in the early afternoon.
The road had been closed in both directions shortly after 2am, after a Tesco articulated delivery lorry burst into flames on the bridge on the approach to the summit. The old A9 road which runs beneath the metal bridge was also closed.
The blaze is believed to have been started by the braking system setting a wheel alight, forcing the lorry driver, who was uninjured, to stop on the bridge.
A total of 22 firefighters from the Highland Fire and Rescue Service, based at Aviemore and Inverness, used breathing apparatus and specialist foam equipment to bring the fire under control.
Northern Constabulary set up lengthy diversions for southbound and northbound traffic via Grantown-on-Spey until the badly damaged vehicle had been removed by a specialist crane.
Later in the day, cars and vans travelling north were allowed through, but HGVs and southbound traffic had to continue to take a lengthy detour via the A96 towards Nairn, and the A939 to Grantown-on-Spey and Dulnain Bridge.
Northern Constabulary said shortly after 3pm: “The road is now open with traffic controls in place.
“Motorists are advised that there may be delays, especially at peak times.”
A spokesman for Scotland Transerv, which manages and maintains the route, said the road was not likely to reopen fully for several days while repairs were completed.
He said: “Because there is surfacing damage which will need to be repaired before both lanes can reopen, the bridge will be under traffic management and a single-lane closure under traffic-light control.
“The road will not be fully reopened until next week some time, when the surfacing has been brought back up to standard.”
Meanwhile, Transport Scotland has announced that new warning signs have been erected on the approaches to the Rest and be Thankful section of the A83 in Argyll to warn of possible landslips.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said that as part of the Scottish Road Network Landslide Action Plan, remote sensing equipment had been installed to monitor of movement of rocks on the hillside.
Special fencing has also been installed along the stretch of the route to help reduce the risk of any landslip reaching the roadside.
The spokesman said the new signs were installed as part of a two-year pilot to test their efficiency as a warning system for drivers.
The area has experienced several landslides in recent years.