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Euro aid helps fund “lifeline” road improvements in North Skye (25/05/11)
Travel on the A 855 between Portree and Staffin, North Skye, is safer and journey times shorter thanks to completion of the third phase of upgrading.
Using innovative design techniques, The Highland Council has followed the alignment of the existing road to widen 4.6 km of single track and passing place road to a two-lane carriageway. The works have improved connectivity to the north of Skye by removing constrictions, improving journey time, assisting safety, particularly for the heavy goods vehicles that travel on this formerly sub-standard road.
The improvements, costing £2.3 million, stretch between Bride’s Veil Waterfall, Loch Leathan and Loch Fada where spectacular views of the Old Man of Storr can be enjoyed.
Two phases of the work have attracted funding from the European Regional Development Fund under the “locally significant” road scheme.
Along the length of the widening, more than 35 culverts have been constructed to take a large number of burns and streams under the road. The existing cattle grid has been taken away and replaced with 6.7km of agricultural fencing. The works have also included more than 1km of safety fencing.
Imported materials were generally from the Council’s Sconser Quarry for the blacktop, and Drummuie Quarry for the rock fill and the gravel fill materials.
The contractors were Highland Quality Construction (HQC) on Phase 1, ROK Construction on Phase 2 and finally Wills Brothers, who have just completed Phase 3.
They experienced many constraints, including the risk of potential land slide, the depth of peat in excess of 7 metres, rock outcrops and the challenges of working during the winter months outwith the busy tourist season.
Consultations took place with various parties including the neighbouring landowners and tenants, SNH, SEPA, Scottish Water, BT, Scottish and Southern Hydro Board, the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate and the local angling club.
Councillor John Laing, Chairman of the Transport Environmental and Community Services, thanked all parties for their co-operation in securing the investment and agreements which had allowed the project to proceed.
He particularly thanked the land owners and local road users for their patience and understanding when temporary road closures were in place.
He said: “This has proved an excellent scheme involving an innovative design to achieve value for money improvements, which are much appreciated in Skye and by visitors to this area of high scenic amenity. It will assist tourism and agriculture for the remote rural communities on the Trotternish Peninsula and encourage development in this part of Skye.”
The A 855 was originally built under the crofter county scheme in the 1960s. The recent upgrading was identified as a “locally significant road” in the 2008 HITRANS report.
The Council has been successful with bids for Euro funding for three other lifeline routes – Drynie Hill (Ardnamurchan), Laxford Bridge (North West Sutherland), and Strathconon (Wester Ross).