Fresh calls for road re-think as breakdown leads to gridlock
FRESH calls for a link road or bypass in Fort William have been made following chaos in the town last week after a broken down bus on the A82 brought traffic to a standstill.
Last Wednesday July 5, a Stagecoach bus broke down heading north on the Belford Road, near the Nevis Bridge roundabout, bringing traffic to a halt during the lunchtime rush hour.
The breakdown caused long tailbacks heading north. Speaking to the Lochaber
Times, chairman of the A82 Partnership Brian Murphy said the incident highlighted the need for a strategic look at the transport situation in Fort William.
He said: ‘ We know this is a very busy tourist area and it’s turned out to be busier than last year, which was incredibly busy.
‘ We can’t continue to ignore the fact there is no sensible diversion route unless you take a tour of Scotland.’
Mr Murphy also indicated that talks between the Highland Council and Transport Scotland are ongoing to put together a funding package to do a strategic transport appraisal of the Fort William area.
Both authorities confirmed to the Lochaber Times this is under way. A spokesperson for Transport Scotland confirmed it is working with the council on plans for the road. ‘ We understand the important part this section of the trunk road net- work plays in the local economy. We can confirm work is currently under way between Transport Scotland and The Highland Council to agree the scope and funding options for an appraisal of transport connections in and around the Fort William,’ said the spokesperson.
Mr Murphy said: ‘It [the appraisal] would look at all the issues and all the options for the road and what might be possible to address the issues. These might look at a Caol link road, proposals for a bypass, as well as the status quo, and any other possibilities. After looking at everything, they would come to a conclusion about what the best option would be. I am hopeful something will come out of it. It will take a bit of time to do it, but it needs to be done because we can’t have this situation continue year on year.’
A spokesperson for Stagecoach North Scotland said: ‘One of our vehicles developed a fault in Fort William on Wednesday July 5 before being recovered to our depot. We would welcome any proposals to improve the roads in Fort William that include bus priority which would ease the daily operational challenges our services are faced with during the busy summer tourist season.’
A Highland Council spokesperson also confirmed the local authority is looking to put together a funding package to get a strategic transport appraisal undertaken for the greater Fort William area.