The £6 million Inverness Streetscape and Transportation Project has transformed city centre streets with an upgrade of the street surfaces and a change to traffic management.
To mark completion of the scheme, Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Inverness City Committee, unveiled the final stone in the scheme outside the Town House.
Pupils from Cauldeen Primary School, who helped design some of the street artworks, sang for guests at the opening.
The new streetscape incorporates Caithness flag stones, granite setts, cubes and kerbs. New street furniture, feature lighting and themed artwork completes the attractive pedestrian friendly environment.
Traffic management changes are designed to minimise the circulation of un-necessary traffic whilst accommodating the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, buses, disabled vehicles and deliveries. The work has extended through Union Street, Church Street, Queensgate, Baron Taylor’s Street, Lombard Street, Drummond Street, Mealmarket Close, Post Office Avenue, Fraser Street, School lane, Church Lane, Inglis Street, Stephen’s Brae and Ness Walk.
The construction team taking this project on its journey to completion have had to deal with a number of problems which are typical of works of this nature in a city centre location. Uncharted services and basements, existing building conditions, pedestrian and vehicular traffic and the need to maintain “business as usual” have all posed there own demanding challenges in reaching this important stage. Several services have been renewed during the construction period including a major water mains upgrade. As areas have been completed the general impression has been one of appreciation of all that has been done. New outside cafes are appearing and there are signs of investment being made in the buildings on these streets.
Artists have been imaginatively involved in the streetscape working on five permanent and temporary projects that have helped the transformation of the Old Town. An intriguing series of carved Caithness slabs, by artistic duo DUFI, reflect and highlight something of the city’s history and culture, often with a humorous slant. The first permanent commission was the installation Three Virtues by Lead Artist, Matt Baker. Local businesses & residents were involved in a creative dialogue to identify three new virtues for Inverness.
‘Perseverance, Open-Heartedness and Insight’ were selected and have helped to form a new public space at the end of Church Street.
Provost Gray said: “I am pleased and also relieved that the project is now complete. The delivery has never been straightforward and a major effort has been put in by all concerned to see the project through whilst taking steps to minimise the disruption to this busy city centre. Now is the time for everyone to realise the benefits of this investment which will take Inverness forwards with an attractive and re-vitalised city centre.”
Scott Alexander, of contractors ROK, said “All of the Rok team involved with this project are pleased to have brought it to a successful conclusion. The majority of the project has been delivered via Rok’s directly employed local workforce who despite the numerous challenges of the project have provided a very high quality project within the timescales agreed with the Client. The local team are immensely proud of their major contribution to these works which have delivered a much enhanced city centre environment for the local community and visitors to Inverness.”
The lead consultants on the project are Land Use Consultants. Project funders are The Highland Council, Inverness Common Good Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and Scottish Arts Council.