Issued by British Waterways
British Waterways Scotland and Highland Council Agree Independent Review Over Bridges
British Waterways Scotland and Highland Council have agreed a further review of the protocol governing opening times of the Tomnahurich and Muirtown swing bridges.
To better inform this review, British Waterways today announced that it has agreed with Highland Council to jointly commission an independent review into traffic movement and needs on both the roads and the canal. This will identify a ‘best-case’ protocol, based on traffic flows and other outside influences on congestion, such as traffic light sequences in the surrounding area, development works that can have an impact on journey times on the roads, or the times of low water at Clachnaharry sea lock, which similarly impacts the canal.
The study will be commissioned as soon as possible with a view to incorporating the results into a review which will then be subject to consultation with wider stakeholder groups before a new protocol is established. It is hoped that the process can be complete before the summer.
Steve Dunlop, director, British Waterways Scotland, commented: “British Waterways Scotland and the Council have an agreed protocol which is regularly reviewed, and we plan to do so again in the coming weeks. An independent piece of traffic modelling work will add great value to this process, and will provide us with recommendations based on both road and canal use, current and anticipated.
“As Inverness continues to flourish, the creation of jobs and business opportunities increase the pressure on the road network. Equally, as tourism grows, so does the flow of traffic on the canal. Even with increased volumes, we are confident that we can strike a balance that keeps the road operating at optimum levels.”
The existing protocol, which was originally set out in 2004, and is regularly reviewed, features a number of measures:
Will not open to canal traffic
0820 – 0920
1315 - 1345*
1700 - 1730
(1020 - 1050 Sundays)
Will not open to canal traffic:
0830 - 0915
1245 - 1315
1650 - 1720
Frequency: A bridge will not open to canal traffic within 10 minutes of a previous opening of that bridge.
Simultaneous operation: Only one of the Inverness bridges (Muirtown and Tomnahurich) will be open to canal traffic at any one time.
Emergency operations: British Waterways reserves the right to open the bridges at any time, without notice, in an emergency situation, eg: to allow passage for rescue vessels. This works both ways if the road is required by emergency vehicles.
These measures are reviewed regularly, and over the past three years some additional measures have been introduced as traffic flows change, or where a specific set of circumstances warrants change. These include the addition of lunchtime restrictions on opening at Muirtown, extension of restrictions from five to seven days a week and amendments to Sunday protocol to accommodate churchgoers.
Although the protocol is a voluntary arrangement, British Waterways recognises the need for road traffic to flow efficiently at peak times and is open to amendments to the agreed protocol. Steve Dunlop concludes: “We are open to amending the protocol and appreciate that the balance between road and canal use needs to be sensitively managed to the benefit of everyone, including the economy of the Highlands. Working with my colleagues at Highland Council, I am confident that a solution can be found, and that this is the best way to go about achieving this.”