OPINION: Road upgrade is now urgent
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David Fraser, chairman of Glen Urquhart Community Council, outlines concerns about the numerous problems with the A82 as he supports the A82: Make it Safe campaign
As road users we expect safe and reliable journeys and these are not unreasonable expectations.
Scottish Government documents state that this is our right; they also state that “they will be focused on providing a trunk road network in a safe and serviceable condition, reducing accidents and providing a safer network”. The statistics over the past decades demonstrate that these basic requirements have neither been achieved nor maintained.
Traffic on the A82 ranges from cyclists to HGVs, and from users who are commuting to holidaymakers driving unfamiliar vehicles.
Everyone is having to contend with poor road surfaces, surface water, bad bends, blind summits, poor road junctions, walkers on the narrow verges, deer etc. It is therefore no surprise that the A82 has become so hazardous and needs major investment from Inverness to Glasgow.
Glen Urquhart Community Council supports wider strategic initiatives on the A82, but focus es each month on the section from Fort Augustus to Inverness. We are in regular contact with Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland managers responsible for this section of the A82.
In July 2017 we carried out a detailed audit of the road through Drumnadrochit, following which Transport Scotland agreed an improvement programme including road resurfacing, white lining, removal of redundant signage and extending the 30mph limit to Borlum Bridge. We are pleased with the resurfacing that has taken place.
Surface water is a regular hazard on the A82 and we have campaigned hard for improvements at the Cobbs Memorial, between Drumnadrochit and Temple Pier and various sections from Clansman Hotel to Lochend. It is understood improvement works are planned for the coming months along with the removal of a number of dangerous rocks.
An example where local knowledge has highlighted a high risk is at the Clansman Hotel. Buses can be effectively blocking the road as they enter the site and at the same time, other drivers are accelerating to overtake slower cars.
Fortunately, there have been few serious accidents but that means that the risk is underestimated and the area is not a high priority for safety improvements.
Following a site visit, Transport Scotland responded to our request to consider a reduced speed limit and the first stage of that process was a number of speed surveys carried out this year.
The results may not be representative due to the impact of Covid on road use. A similar survey will be carried out between Borlum Bridge and the health centre.
We have also been discussing with Transport Scotland the provision of additional northbound laybys ,where slow vehicles can allow traffic to pass. We also lobbied for a bus stop at the Clansman Hotel so that the service bus doesn’t have to stop on the A82. It was agreed these ideas would be taken forward.
We had a recent meeting with Councillor Margaret Davidson and representatives of Sustrans to ask that the concept of a low-level cycle path and walkway from Inverness to Fort Augustus is revisited.
Not all our campaigns have been successful. We have asked Transport Scotland to look at a number of solutions to the traffic at Drum Bridge and the risk that poses in particular to pedestrians and cyclists. We are also aware that the footpaths at Borlum Bridge are dangerously narrow for mobility scooters but so far Transport Scotland have refused to look at these issues.
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