Fresh calls for road re-think as break­down leads to grid­lock

The Oban Times - - News -

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.

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