Preparatory works to begin on Inverness West Link Road

Works on the long awaited Inverness West Link Project will begin in mid-September. Funding for the project was unanimously agreed by Council in March this year.

A Contract has been let to M.M. Miller Building and Civil Engineering Contractors for the Advance Works which will allow trees to be removed to clear the way for the main works and for major utility services to be diverted.  It is anticipated that the tree removal works will be completed within four weeks, with the services diversions by March 2016, paving the way for the main West Link Road Stage 1 and the Canal Parks Enhancement works which will start in the spring of 2016.

Chair of Development and Infrastructure, Cllr Audrey Sinclair said: “Whilst the new road will result in the removal of 129 trees along the A82, Bught Road and south of the river Ness, these will be replaced with 178 established trees and over 3,000 saplings, replacing almost 50% more large trees than will be lost.  

“The new large trees will be approximately 4 metres high providing instant `greening’ and screening, where required.  Although the new trees initially won’t be as large as those removed, over time they will mature and help to integrate the road and associated projects into the local landscape. The saplings will be managed to ensure the continuity of tree cover in Inverness.”

A quantity of the timber will be set aside to be used in community projects.

The inaugural meeting of the Local Community Liaison Group was held on 31 August. The group, which includes members of local community councils, was given a presentation on the West Link Project, a flyover simulation and details of the forthcoming works in the project plan.

Cllr Graham Ross, Chair of the Local Community Liaison Group said: “The first meeting was very positive and is a good way for members of the local community to get regular updates on the project. It also serves as a useful forum for any questions. This was the first of a series of regular meetings and we are looking forward to seeing the project progress.”

Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: “A huge amount of work and planning has gone into getting us to this stage and I am delighted to see the project finally get started on the ground. The West Link will bring significant benefits to the city, not least reducing the misery of congestion in the city centre as well as delivering significant return for public investment.”

Provost Helen Carmichael said: “I am delighted to be present at the planting of the first new large tree on site. This first tree represents both our commitment to creating a better environment of communities and the growth which the West Link Road project will bring to the city.”

The West Link will provide multiple benefits to the City. It is estimated that the project will provide a substantial cost-benefit ratio for the investment of 3.86, which represents nearly £4 of benefit to every £1 of public investment.

It will significantly reduce congestion and pollution in the city centre. The city centre of Inverness suffers from increasingly severe traffic congestion due to increased growth and traffic, the influx of tourists and visitors and rush-hour “bottlenecks” forcing a large volume of traffic through a small number of routes. The congestion creates delays for essential business travel and emergency vehicles.

The West Link road will enhance active travel linkages including cycling and walking within the city

speed up journey times from the A96 to the A82 and will remove traffic delays with crossing the canal.

The project will also enable housing development and associated developer contributions and the construction employment will undoubtedly bring economic benefits to the area.

Stage 2 of the project will provide vastly improved amenity and leisure facilities at the Torvean golf club and the rugby club and a sports hub - part of a greater ambition for the City of Inverness and will enable further development.

The Council unanimously agreed a total of £55 million to progress the West Link and enhanced sports facilities on 12 March 2015.


Notes:

  • Planning approval for the West Link was issued on the 14 April 2014 following consideration at the South Planning Application Committee on the 8 April 2014.
  • Highland Council agreed a total of £55 million allocated funding to progress the West Link and enhanced sports facilities on 12 March 2015.
  • The detailed costs of the West Link scheme are reported at £36.6M (at December 2014 prices). This compares to the cost of £34.398 reported in September 2013. 
  • The Council also approved the enhanced sports facilities made possible by the West Link project. Funding was agreed for the Rugby pitches and facilities at Canal Parks (£4.1 million) and the redevelopment of Torvean Golf Course (£8.2 million).
  • Due to the extended construction programme, with works anticipated to be complete in 2020/21 and applying construction inflation* over this period an allocation in the capital programme of £43.35m was approved.
  • The Torvean Golf course project received planning consent in April 2015 and the Canal Parks Enhancement on 18 August 2015
  • West Link will deliver significant economic benefits to the city and surrounding area. It is anticipated that almost £4 in economic benefit would be achieved for every £1 spent on building the road alone.
  • The scheme enables construction jobs and housing development and the revenue that would bring to the region. Developer contributions of £3.75 million are anticipated to be received following the development of land for housing.
  • The West Link will also reduce traffic congestion, improve journey times and support active travel through cycling and walking.
  • The footpath orders were approved by the Reporter on 7 August 2015
  • The CPO was approved by the Reporter on 12 August 2015
  • The main construction for Stage 1 (east of the canal) would then commence in Spring 2016 with completion in late 2017. Stage 2 would be completed in 2020 following the relocation of the golf course.
  • Swing bridge design has advanced significantly since the construction of Tomnahurich Bridge in 1938.   The new bridge will be designed and constructed to the latest standards with an emphasis on reliability, durability and ease of maintenance which should ensure that the problems experienced at Tomnahurich are not repeated. The design of the new bridge will be an improvement on the Tomnahurich design in a number of ways, especially where automated control systems, opening mechanisms and bearings are concerned. 
  • Special attention will be paid to the sizing of the expansion gaps at the ends of the bridge to ensure that extremes of temperature can be accommodated without the risk of jamming.
  • The existing facilities will be enhanced to provide a community facility managed by Highlife Highland with completion programmed for 2018.
  • Dependent on the outcome of a City-Region Deal, Councillors also agreed (on 12 March 2015) to progress with an ambitious Regional Sports Facility for the Highlands, which could include a significant contribution by SportScotland of £5 million to the project.
1 Sep 2015
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