More than 150 residents turned out in Lochcarron Village Hall on Monday night at a public meeting held by The Highland Council to set out the options and costings for the long-term improvement of the A890 Lochcarron – Lochalsh road, known as the Stromeferry by-pass.
The aim of the meeting was to establish the views of the local community on the options and identify if there are any further options that the Council needs to consider before progressing to stage two of the process, which is to conduct an options appraisal on the route.
The main proposals presented to the meeting involved a number of options for upgrading the existing route; the bridging of the narrows with the associated approach road; and a by-pass through the Attadale Estate between Strathcarron Junction and Glen Udalain.
Residents were advised that there was no easy or obvious option for delivering a long-term solution and it was likely that a public inquiry would be required. It was therefore important that all options were properly considered before a preferred option was selected.
The options for upgrading the existing route range from £59 million to £115 million. The estimated cost of providing a by-pass via Glen Udalain is £23 million. The bridge crossing near the Strome narrows and approach road is estimated to cost £60 million. The estimates do not include land purchase costs.
Councillor Graham Phillips, Chairman of the Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee, who chaired the meeting, thanked the communities for turning out in such large numbers at the exhibition held earlier in the day and at the public meeting to air their views on the plans.
He said the Council would return to the community in approximately nine months time with more detailed information on the options including those presented at the meeting.
He said: “We very much welcome the views of the public on the options we displayed at the exhibition and others that we may have overlooked. This will be the first of a number of consultations with the public as we take the project through its various stages of design development.”
Following the road closure on 22 December, last year, the Council commissioned a car ferry and a passenger ferry to maintain links between Lochcarron and Stromeferry and an early morning train service between Strathcarron and Kyle was organised by Scotrail to take pupils from Applecross, Kishorn and Lochcarron to Plockton High School in time for the start of the school day. These were withdrawn when traffic was diverted on to the railway line on 26 March. The road was fully reopened on 23 April.
The overall cost of dealing with the recent rock fall, including the ferries and additional train services is estimated at £2.8 million.