From: Transport Scotland
An estimated £18 million programme of essential works is to be started next year on the Kessock Bridge to bring the key route into Inverness and the North of Scotland up to modern standards and ensure public safety.
The road surface on the bridge, which carries 30,000 vehicles every day, has reached the end of its working life and the need for ad-hoc repairs has become increasingly disruptive to traffic. It is now necessary to intervene and resurface the bridge in its entirety, saving motorists time lost to emergency roadworks that would otherwise be increasingly required without undertaking these essential repairs.
A programme of works has been planned to upgrade the bridge under a single contract and this will commence in February 2013 and last until June 2014. Traffic restrictions will be in place for phases during this period as follows: -
- Phase 1 Resurfacing (February 2013 to June 2013) – 2 lane running 24 hrs.
- Phase 2 Resurfacing (February 2014 to June 2014) – 2 lane running 24 hrs.
- Other works carried out with limited Temporary Traffic Management during certain periods including provisionally 3 lane tidal running day-time and 2 lane night-time running.
In advance of these works, Transport Scotland will be making permanent improvements to nearby junctions and roundabouts on the A82 and A9 including the signalisation of Longman Roundabout, in order to ease traffic congestion while the main works on the bridge are underway. These advance network improvements will begin in November 2012 and will be complete before the main bridge repairs begin in February 2013.
Traffic management arrangements described above will be in place for the duration of the works and it is inevitable that there will be disruption and delays to users on this heavily trafficked route particularly during Phase 1 and 2 resurfacing. A reduced speed limit will be in place for the safety of motorists and the workforce.
Motorists are therefore being encouraged to consider alternate ways of travelling into the city, including using public transport or car sharing. Transport Scotland is liaising with train and bus operators to discuss additional services and employers are also being approached to discuss the possibility of flexible working patterns to minimise congestion at peak times. A south-bound bus HGV/ Bus Lane on the bridge is also being considered.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “These works are absolutely essential but we are fully aware of the disruption they will cause on this busy route. We are committed to minimising disruption while the repairs are underway and have been liaising with stakeholders to explore the various mitigation options available.
“One option we considered was a temporary park and ride. However, this would cost around £1m and would only be required to cater for peak-time services, making the cost excessive for what would only be a temporary measure.
“Reinstating the Kessock ferry temporarily has also been suggested but this would not be able to provide sufficient capacity and the anticipated delays on the A9 would make it difficult to get to the ferry terminal at North Kessock.
“We have instead decided to invest in permanent improvements to the road network which will provide long term benefits. Our proposals for improvements at nearby junctions and roundabouts, including the signalisation of Longman Roundabout, will benefit drivers beyond this programme of roadworks.
“Our proposals currently under consideration also include a southbound HGV/bus lane on the A9, extra train and bus services and discussions with local employers about the possibility of flexible working to reduce congestion at peak times.”
Transport Scotland is liaising extensively with stakeholders, including The Highland Council, the Police, HITRANS, local businesses and local communities to ensure everyone is aware of what is happening and what their options are for alternative transport.
A survey is also being carried out to allow those who use the road to highlight their views on alternative travel options – see https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Kessock_Resurfacing
More detail close to the commencement of works will be provided to ensure travellers can make informed choices as they plan their journeys. Motorists using the A9 can access up to the minute journey time information at www.trafficscotland.org. Further journey planning information is also available on Twitter and via the Travelline Scotland/Transport Scotland travel app.