Council continues to seek long term solution for Stromeferry A890
Works at Stromeferry to stabilise a section of rock face were completed in November. It is recognised that the works, which involved a road onto rail bypass, caused a significant amount of disruption, this being eased during the works by the implementation of an innovative signalling system by Network Rail to control the interface between the rail and road traffic much more efficiently.
Highland Council undertake detailed assessments of the slopes every year and this then influences the nature and timing of any further stabilisation works.
The 2018 annual inspection undertaken by specialist geologists, identified four very high risk slopes and seven high risk slope areas and the Council is planning to undertake further remedial works. It is proposed that the four very high risk slopes are prioritised and work is currently ongoing to establish the most appropriate stabilisation techniques and also consideration is being given as to how the works will be undertaken safely whilst minimising traffic disruption and when these works will be undertaken.
Today (14/12/18) a lessons learned workshop was held involving partners from school transport, emergency services and NHS, to consider the impact of the recently completed works and what lessons can be learned and improvement that can be made to limit disruption to these vital services as future works are undertaken.
Due to the location and nature of the works it is likely that road onto rail solution will again be adopted for one of the slopes – and Network Rail have already indicated their willingness to work with the Highland Council to minimise disruption and also use the recently adopted signalling system.
Cllr Henderson Chair of The Highland Council’s Environment Development and Infrastructure Committee said: “We are well aware of the recent assessment and we are committed to find the funds necessary to undertake these works, a paper will be brought to committee at the end of January where we shall consider both the timing and funding of the works. I am confident that the design team will provide excellent advice to allow the works to progress. Works to the existing rock face is a sticking plaster with the long term solution being recognised by all as the goal. I have asked officers to recommend the formation of a cross party options selections group such that this group can consider all the work that has been done on consideration of the options and all the related issues, such that a recommendation from this group on the preferred long term solution can be established. We shall also work with funding partners with the aim of finding the necessary funding – in the first instance to progress the design and consents and then the even greater challenge of funding the works.”
Cllr Henderson paid tribute to Councillor Biz Campbell for her tenacity in this matter going back over the years. He said: “At every opportunity Cllr Campbell has raised the need for a long-term solution and the need to secure and ring-fence the necessary funds to keep this lifeline route open. We thank her and all her fellow Ward councillors over the years who have shown determination and resolve to keep a long-term solution for Stromeferry such a priority.”
Speaking on behalf of the Ward Councillors, Cllr Biz Campbell said: “We are so aware of the disruption to our communities that this work causes, but I am also reassured, as are the communities, that these works are being planned in such a considered manner. I fully support the selection of the preferred long term option and will do all I can to ensure that the funding is considered at the highest level.”
Following committee having the opportunity to discuss the paper at the end of January, the Council will undertake consultations with the communities early in the New Year to consider the works, the timing and the traffic impacts and mitigation measures.