BUILD THE BYPASS: Villages on 'unofficial Nairn bypass' call for push on A96 development as speeding concerns grow
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Communities located on what is known as the “unofficial Nairn bypass” are calling for rapid progress on A96 improvements amidst alarming concerns on through-traffic speeding.
With increasing traffic congestion on the A96 through Nairn, communities in Auldearn and Cawdor are increasingly worried about the traffic trying to avoid the bottleneck in town.
After launching the Inverness Courier's Build the Bypass campaign last week, we spoke to representatives of the communities most affected by the need of a bypass.
According to Auldearn Community Council secretary Ian Sikora every parent in the village has a “horror story” to share about vehicles not stopping at a zebra crossing in front of the local primary school and nursery.
He said: “If you were to speak to any of the residents, particularly parents – of which I’m one – the first thing that most people will mention is the general speed of traffic coming through, but also vehicles not stopping at the zebra crossing. That happens during school run times and every parent will have some horror story concerning a vehicle not stopping at the zebra crossing.
“The consequences of that going wrong don’t need spelling out.”
Earlier this year the community council announced it was working to implement measures to address the problem –including a new 20mph speed limit, the installation of speed cushions and alternative signage encouraging drivers to go around rather than through the village.
"We are trying to do the best we can with what, at the end of the day, will be a relatively small change," he said. "Hopefully this will bring some level of improvement. However, we're doing this in the reality and understanding that the bypass will not be happening anytime soon."
Talking about the Build the Bypass campaign Mr Sikora added: “This has been a problem for over 20 years.
“A campaign is a really positive thing because it kind of rekindles light on the topic and reminds people that this is something that needs sorting out.”
In nearby Cawdor a speed survey carried out by Highland Council between February 9 and February 15 this year showed almost 70 per cent of traffic crossing the village on the B9090 travelled above the 30mph speed limit, with speeds of up to 65/70mph recorded – among which a recording on a Tuesday at 9am.
Cawdor Community Council secretary Lizzy Rose said this is a major concern for parents and elderly people who have to walk along the road – which has no pavement and only an unlit footpath as an alternative in places – to reach the primary school, community centre and shop.
She said: “It seems that, because there have been improvements along some of the roads and bridges recently, drivers feel they can go even faster.
“Whenever there is any disruption on the A96, this is everybody’s choice of alternative. It is a problem and is not getting any better.
“It’s a big concern having to have children cross the road to go to school and old people having to walk along the verge.
“A bypass would have a very positive impact on lives of people in the village.
“I am afraid these things will just keep being pushed to one side unless somebody makes a big noise about it.”
Provost of Nairn, Laurie Fraser, agreed the Nairn bypass is needed not just for Nairn but also for the surrounding rural area.
“Not having through traffic will make a big difference to those villages along the road,” he said. “It will keep heavy vehicles away and reduce speeding vehicles, as well as the strain over bridges and reduce maintenance needed over those roads.
“The central belt’s interest always comes first, we always come last for the Scottish Government.”
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Preparation work continues on the dualling of the A96 Inverness to Nairn section, including the Nairn bypass, which already has ministerial consent following a public local inquiry.
“We are continuing to progress the significant and intensive work required to prepare for publication of Made Orders, including the Compulsory Purchase Order, with a view to completing the statutory process as soon as possible.
“Delivery of the scheme can only commence if approved under the relevant statutory authorisation process and thereafter a timetable for progress can be set in line with available budgets.”