Major review gets under way to improve regional connectivity in Fort William
Issued on behalf of project partners
Work has started on a study to identify how best to improve transport movement in and around Fort William. It is recognised that investment is urgently needed due to pressure on the existing transport network caused by increasing summer visitor numbers and employment-led growth.
Consultants AECOM have been appointed to conduct a study to identify opportunities for strategic multi-modal transport improvements which will support local and nationally significant economic developments within the area. The scope of work includes road, railway, marine and active travel infrastructure.
The study will be project managed and overseen by a steering group which includes representatives of The Highland Council, HITRANS, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Transport Scotland. HITRANS, HIE and the Council have agreed to jointly fund the study.
The intention is for AECOM to deliver the draft pre-appraisal report by early summer.
Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of HITRANS and Chair of Highland Council’s Environment Development and Infrastructure committee said a key element of the appraisal would be consultation with key stakeholders in the Lochaber area.
He said: “Fort William is a dynamic and diverse area. It is a truly multi-modal area, served directly by road and rail, with onward connections to ferry ports on the west coast. It is also served by long distance cycling and walking routes. It not only functions as a place to live and work, but has strategic economic importance as a leisure and tourism hub, promoted as the Outdoor Capital of the UK. The area continues to grow in terms of land use development, and visitor numbers, generating additional trips using the existing transport infrastructure.
“The best people to tell us the problems are the key transport providers and users of the local transport network and I’m sure they will have some pretty good ideas on how to fix them. I’m sure the consultants will be busy speaking with the stakeholders to identify the opportunities that will influence the development of solutions.”
AECOM brings a wealth of experience in STAG appraisal, business case development and economic impacts of multi-modal transport interventions. For Transport Scotland, they have prepared business bases and transport appraisals for the case for investment in the dualling of the A9 and A96, as well as initial appraisal work on extending high speed rail to Scotland. They have worked on transport appraisals for the City Deal process in the West of Scotland as well as for Aberdeen City Council, South Lanarkshire Council and other local authorities on a number of multi-modal corridors.