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The new £1.5million ferry terminal building at Tarbert opened to the public yesterday (Monday 23 January), although it will see no passengers until March.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), which owns the ferry terminal, has today announced completion of the award-winning harbour redevelopment project, with the majority of the work carried out while the lifeline ferry terminal remained operational.

The redevelopment received a Scottish Civil Engineering marine infrastructure award in November 2022.

During a second phase of work, local contractors Lewis Builders constructed the new terminal building where passengers will, eventually, be able to await the arrival of ferries from Uig and Lochmaddy.

The closure of Uig harbour for redevelopment by Highland Council means that the increased seating and other new facilities at Tarbert will not be appreciated until service recommences after 13 March this year.

As well as increased seating and open views across the harbour, the building is the first public location in Harris and Lewis to have a changing places accessible toilet with shower, electric hoist and adult changing facilities.

The final phase of work includes removal of the temporary terminal building, completion of the east end of the marshalling area and installation of electric vehicle charging points and a cycle shelter. 

Ramsay Muirhead, CMAL’s director of port infrastructure and planning, said: "We are very proud of this building which has been completed on schedule and on budget by a local contractor. The work to redevelop the harbour and terminal building began in 2019, and had to pause during the global pandemic.

“As soon as we were able to resume work safely, we did. It is testament to the hard work of our contractors and the patience of the local community that we are now able to welcome passengers to the new terminal.”

Scottish Government minister for transport Jenny Gilruth said: “I’m delighted to see the newly upgraded harbour facilities at Tarbert open for business and would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work on this project.

“These facilities are a great example of how the Scottish Government is supporting our island communities by making sure they have access to the best ferry and harbour facilities possible. I’m particularly pleased to see the introduction of changing places toilet facilities, making sure our harbours are accessible to all.

“The Tarbert route will also benefit from the recently announced £115 million investment in two new vessels, as our intention is that these ferries would be deployed on the Skye triangle routes to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, delivering dedicated services to communities in the peak season rather than the shared vessel operation currently in place.”

Ms Gilruth, who has earned plaudits locally for taking on board islanders’ views on ferry fares and service issues, expects to visit Tarbert at a later date to perform a formal opening and to see the new port facility in operation.

The pictures show internal and external views of the new ferry terminal building (CMAL).