Issued By Transport Scotland
Britain’s last remaining single track trunk road, the ‘Road to the Isles’, has been upgraded to double carriageway standard following a £23 million investment, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson announced today.
Mr Stevenson said that in many ways the completion of the upgrade to the A830 marked the end of an era for a road which has been famed for many years for its single track status.
However, he said that the upgrade would be widely welcomed, bringing vital safety improvements whilst boosting the Highlands economy.
During a visit to site today, Mr Stevenson also reaffirmed the commitment of the Scottish Government and Highland Council to upgrade another key artery for the Highlands – the A82. Mr Stevenson said that the Scottish Government’s transport blueprint had marked this as a priority for the Scottish Government, with £90 million of investment identified as part of the Strategic Transport Projects Review.
The Minister said: “The Road to the Small Isles is one of the most stunning in Scotland, with unrivalled views which showcase some of the best scenery anywhere in the Highlands. For years, the road has been famed for its single track status, and in many ways this is the end of an era. However, anyone who has ever experienced the road, will know that this is vital investment which will be welcomed by the local community, visitors and businesses alike.
“This investment will deliver important safety improvements and boost the local economy.
“During this the year of Homecoming, when we are encouraging people to celebrate Scotland’s culture and heritage, this project will bring real benefits by speeding up journey times, promoting safety and providing better links with Mallaig’s ferry connections to Skye and improving the routes to market for the local fishing industry.
”As a Government, we remain committed to maintaining and improving lifeline routes in the Highland and throughout Scotland. Like the A830, the A82 is a key transport artery for the Highlands and the Scottish Government and Highlands Council are absolutely committed to investing in upgrading this route on a continuing and progressive basis. We have marked the A82 as key priority in our transport blueprint for Scotland, with £90 million of investment identified for the A82 in the Strategic Transport Projects Review.
“We want to deliver improvements for the A82 which will bring real benefits for locals, tourists, and businesses alike.”
During the A830 project, an additional £239,000 was invested in the construction of two new lay-bys to give road users the opportunity to stop to enjoy the breath-taking views on one of Scotland’s most scenic routes.
Some of that scenery meant special consideration had to be given to environmental factors during the design and construction phases. As the road passes through Glen Beasdale Special Area of Conservation, noted for its ancient oakwood, its otters and its fresh water mussels, significant effort was made to retain the existing character of the area. Furthermore, a new habitat is currently being developed to maintain and improve oak woodland.
Jim Steele, Operations Director for Morrison Construction’s civil engineering business in Scotland, said: “We are proud of the quality of work we have produced at Arisaig and the way the new road blends into the natural beauty of its surroundings.
“The A830 was one of the most frustrating roads for the travelling public in the region and we thank road users and local residents for their patience and understanding whilst the road was being upgraded.
“As a major Highland’s employer we are particularly pleased to add the Arisaig project to our proven track record of successfully delivering key road improvements across Scotland.”
Councillor Michael Foxley, Leader of The Highland Council’s Administration, who was councillor for Mallaig and the Small Isles for 10 years from 1986, said: “The significant investment in this road to provide modern two-lane carriageway is a massive boost for this area and marks the end of a sustained campaign by the Council and the local community to win improvements to this lifeline road.”
He paid tribute to the campaigning of former local Highland Councillor, Charlie King, Mallaig, in securing Scottish Government support for the Road to the Isles.
Councillor John Laing, Chairman of the Council’s Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the final piece in the jigsaw has been completed. The road provides safe, faster and more reliable travel for local residents and visitors alike, and is a very welcome boost for the economy of the West Highlands, including Skye and the Western Isles.”
Alasdair Fowler, Grontmij’s operations director, added: “Designing the road at Arisaig was an exciting and challenging project. We worked closely with Transport Scotland and Morrison Construction to deliver an upgraded road that will provide a safer passage to the western isles. Arisaig is an area of natural beauty and conservation, so it was imperative that we took this into account in the design of the road. We worked closely with landscape and environment specialists to ensure that the new road was constructed within certain boundaries so as not to disturb the protected surrounding environment.”