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Busy Inverness junction set for safety upgrades

By Neil MacPhail

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Raigmore Interchange.
Raigmore Interchange.

SAFETY improvements look set to be finally made at one of the busiest junctions in the Highlands.

Campaigners have battled for years to get changes made to the Raigmore Interchange which connects the A9 and A96 in Inverness, where a grandmother was killed last year.

Phoebe Mackenzie (58) was struck by a car as she tried to cross the southbound slip-road and died later in hospital.

There are no green man lights on the road, which is crossed by a shared pedestrian/cyclist path connecting the city with a shopping park, though the northbound slip, only feet away, has crossing lights.

Mrs Mackenzie's death led to huge local concern over safety on the vast roundabout which led to regional Labour MSP David Stewart taking up the cudgels.

Transport Scotland has now told Mr Stewart that traffic lights could be installed at all four entry points to the roundabout under a planned new scheme.

The cost will be considerable, but there may be contribution from the new push to improve active travel routes.

The move would provide “an equitable split in green time between vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists”.

The system would provide a constant traffic light cycle with a green man phase for pedestrians to cross all traffic flows safely in turn.

The transport agency and Highland Council hope to bring in the permanent safety solution with consultation on a Traffic Regulation Order planned for the end of October. Meanwhile a temporary speed limit at the roundabout and its approaches is also coming in this month.

“This is all good news,” Mr Stewart said. “One of the issues with the southbound slip-road was that it could not have even temporary traffic lights to improve safety as it would result in extremely long traffic queues backing up beyond the retail park and have long waiting times for pedestrians.

“This new scheme being drawn up appears to solve the problem. I know traffic lights can cause irritation at times, but we must remember there was a tragic death at this spot.

“It was not only devastating for family and friends but brought home the dangers of that section of the road and the need for improvements.

“Since coronavirus I've seen a trend for more cyclists and this project hopefully will provide a safer environment for them.”

Transport Scotland says the new scheme is similar to one used at Inveralmond Roundabout in Perth.

The agency added: “At this stage we are only nearing a concept of how safe crossing could be achieved and the next stage once the council, Sustrans and Transport Scotland have all agreed on this, is the detailed design of the actual layout of wide pedestrian/cycle routes through the junction.”

Brian MacKenzie, of the Highland Cycling Campaign and chairman of Inverness Living Streets, said: "Hopefully this will come in and make the roundabout safer for those on foot, bike or wheelchair. I understand a 30mph limit is proposed for the roundabout compared with the national limit before."

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