Inverness City: West Link Road Project

posted by Roy Sinclair - 9 Dec 2010, 4:07 p.m.

The public are being asked by The Highland Council to have their say on five pragmatic options for providing a new transport link to the west of Inverness. The plan is to take traffic from the Southern Distributor Road at Dores Road to the A82 trunk road at Torvean via a fixed link across the River Ness and the Caledonian Canal.

All involve a bridge crossing of the River Ness and the construction of a second bridge across the canal to ensure that traffic flows continuously at all times with a permanent link.

Starting out with 90 alternatives and going through a process of examination on technical and environmental grounds, the 5 options arrived at are considered to be feasible and practical.

The prospect of a tunnel has not been progressed because of very serious concerns expressed by Historic Scotland about any impact on the canal, either as an aqueduct or on the embankment. There are also issues concerning the impact of a tunnel on the River Ness flood plain, which makes this option totally impractical.

Affected landowners have received a letter from the Council setting out the options and a series of public meetings and displays of the project proposals will be held as follows:-

Tuesday 14 December - City Ward Forum: 7.30 pm in Charleston Academy

Wednesday 15 December - Daytime Exhibition: 11 am - 7 pm in Kinmylies Church:

Wednesday 15 December - City Ward Forum: 7.30 pm in Inverness Royal Academy

Thursday 16 December - Daytime Exhibition: 11 am - 7 pm in Culduthel Hall

Representatives from TEC Services of the Council will be in attendance at each exhibition to explain the proposals in greater detail and invite comments.

A deputation from The Highland Council has been in detailed discussion with the Scottish Government over the options for easing traffic to the west of Inverness through construction of a new link road over the Canal and the River Ness which will include Park and Ride and new cycle ways for improved active travel and public transport from the south-west suburbs into the City Centre . Also a Stakeholder Group comprising officials form The Council, Transport Scotland, Historic Scotland, British Waterways and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency have also been meeting to help guide the project through the legislative issues since much of the land in this area is of high environmental sensitivity.

In 2008, the Council developed multi-modal proposals for improvements to infrastructure in and around Inverness City. The proposals were submitted to the Scottish Government's Scottish Transport Projects Review (STPR) in anticipation that funding from the Scottish Government would be realised. The Council's input to the STPR process has been partially successful in that the East Link co-joining the A96 with the A9 has been included in the Review output but not the West Link over the River Ness and Canal.

Council Leader Michael Foxley said the Council had been working closely with Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson on progressing a number of road improvements in the Highlands, including the West Link at Inverness.

He said: "This is a project that is being taken forward by the Council but it is important that we work hand in hand with the Scottish Government on our proposals as they are part of the bigger picture in terms of easing traffic congestion in and around Inverness. "

Councillor John Laing, Chairman of the Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee, said: "We have produced five pragmatic options which have emerged from an exhaustive sifting process. All are deemed to be cost effective and deliverable. We are still some way away from making decisions. We hope for a good turn out at the public exhibitions and lots of comments to guide us in selecting a preferred option for taking this important project forward."

Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of the Council's Inverness City Committee, said: "These five options give us a strong base on which to consult with the public. They are the result of extensive examination and we are assured they are feasible and deliverable. We really need a solution that will allow us to get started as soon as the funding is in place."

The five options are:-
OPTION 1 - Crosses the River Ness at the open ground between Pringles Woollen Mill and the Precast Yard to a roundabout at the western end on the Canal fields then follows the embankment of the canal along the edge of the fields to reach Bught Road adjacent to the Queens Park Athletics Track and thereafter crosses the canal with a low level canal bridge which will operate in tandem with the existing A82 Tomnahurich canal bridge ensuring that one of these bridges will remain open to traffic at all times.

OPTION 2 - Crosses the River Ness at the open ground between Pringles Woollen Mill and the Precast Yard to a roundabout at the western end on the Canal fields then follows the southern edge of the canal fields adjacent to the Weir along the edge of Whin Park to a roundabout on the bend of Bught Road and thereafter traverses the Rugby Ground to a new low level canal swing bridge mid way between the Tomnahurich Canal bridge and the edge of Torvean Quarry which is a Special Area of Scientific Interest then traverses the Golf course to a new roundabout on the A82 trunk road at General Booth Road

OPTION 3 - Crosses the River Ness at its narrowest point between Rossie and Heraghty lodges on Dores Road to land on Whin Park and a new roundabout on Bught Road and thereafter follows Bught Road to a new roundabout adjacent to the Queens Park Athletics Track and thereafter crosses the canal with a low level canal bridge which will operate in tandem with the existing A82 Tomnahurich canal bridge ensuring that one of these bridges will remain open to traffic at all times.

OPTION 4 - Crosses the River Ness at its narrowest point between Rossie and Heraghty lodges on Dores Road to land on Whin Park and a new roundabout on the bend of Bught Road and thereafter traverses the Rugby Ground to a new low level canal swing bridge mid way between the Tomnahurich Canal bridge and the edge of Torvean Quarry which is a Special Area of Scientific Interest then traverses the Golf course to a new roundabout on the A82 trunk road at General Booth Road

OPTION 5 - Crosses the River Ness at its narrowest point between Rossie and Heraghty lodges on Dores Road to land on Whin Park and a new roundabout on the bend of Bught Road and thereafter passes through the Canal parks between the Rugby ground and Whin Park and passes through the middle of the Canal parks to cross the Canal with a low level Canal Bridge close to the edge of the Torvean Quarry which is a Special Area of Scientific Interest then traverses the Golf course to a new roundabout on the A82 trunk road at General Booth Road.

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