Kessock Bridge repair to ‘halve journey times’
Drivers facing massive disruption when essential repairs are carried out on Kessock Bridge at Inverness have been assured the work will ultimately halve their journey times.
• Motorists assured repairs to Kessock Bridge will eventually halve journey times despite expected disruption
• Bridge revamp is first major repair work since opening in 1982
• £13.2 million project will resurface bridge deck and improve surrounding junctions
Transport Scotland told motorists the upheaval will be worth the months of delays once the refurbishment programme – the first major works since the bridge opened in 1982 – is complete.
The cable-stayed bridge carries the A9 duel carriageway across the Beauly Firth at Inverness and is used by approximately 30,000 vehicles a day, 11 per cent of which are HGVs.
The £13.2 million contract will see engineers carry out extensive repairs, including resurfacing of the bridge deck, while also introducing improvements, in particular to junctions surrounding the bridge, which are designed to reduce congestion in the future.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said the project, beginning next month and running until June, will have a long-term benefit to drivers, with faster access in and out of the city.
He said: “The Kessock Bridge is a vital artery for Inverness and the Highlands and these works will leave important legacy benefits for the community. A modern, refurbished bridge, improved cycle ways and, crucially, vastly improved journey times for motorists once the works are complete.
“With just over a week until this project begins, it is encouraging to see the community pulling together to ensure Inverness remains open for business.
“We have heard examples of employers offering flexible working to staff, local maternity clinics set up so pregnant women don’t have to travel into Inverness and individuals planning to take the train or car-share to reduce the number of cars on the road.
“Yes, there will be disruption but we are confident that our investment in road improvements and in enhanced public transport means commuters have viable alternatives to sitting in traffic queues during these vital repairs.”
It currently takes around 17 minutes for drivers to travel from south of Inshes to the north of the city to Longman Roundabout and this, they claim, will be reduced to six minutes after the works.
Likewise, journeys from Tore Roundabout to Longman Roundabout will be cut from 16 minutes to 10 minutes and journeys from Friars Bridge to Longman Roundabout reduced from 13 minutes to five minutes.
Cyclists will also benefit in the wake of the bridge repairs, with cycle paths being upgraded and maintained from the Tore area, heading over the bridge and all the way to Raigmore.
Increased parapets on the bridge itself will separate them from the traffic, whilst the cycleways on the bridge will be resurfaced using the same state of the art material being used on the road surface.
Transport Scotland also confirmed that there will be almost no delays for those taking the bus into Inverness during the works.
Their spokesman explained: “There will be a dedicated bus lane in place during these works and this will only be used by buses, HGVs and the emergency services.
“Our traffic model shows that buses will be able to travel in and out of the city in almost the same time as it takes them to do so at the moment, making this an attractive option for those who want to avoid queues.
“There will also be twice as many seats on trains and we know that a local car-share scheme launched this week has generated some interest.
“All of these options will help commuters avoid the worst of the disruption, which could be up to an our during rush hour.”
The programme to upgrade Kessock Bridge will be carried out by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering between 11 February and June 2013 and will continue between February and June 2014.
All local road improvements, additional capacity on public transport, additional parking and the re-opening of Conon Bridge Station will be in place before the main repairs to the bridge begin.
Highland Council leader Drew Hendry said: “We welcome the major investment being made by the Scottish Government in maintaining the Kessock Bridge, which is a symbol of progress in the Highlands.
“We have known about the resurfacing for some time and this has helped us to prepare and offer measures to ease the impact of the closure of two lanes of carriageway.
“As the biggest employer in the Highlands with 900 staff crossing the bridge daily en route to work, we can play an important role in relieving pressure on the bridge, especially at peak times.
“We are encouraging staff to consider public transport, lift sharing, working from home or at an office near to their home that does not require crossing the bridge and extending our flexi time hours at the start and end of the day.
“All this should help to keep traffic moving and minimise disruption to business life and the delivery of key Council services.”
Steve Walker, Managing Director of Stagecoach in the Highlands said: “We are pleased that the traffic modelling suggests that delays to bus users will be minimal and of course the permanent road improvements will continue to benefit bus users upon completion of the works.”
Steve Montgomery, ScotRail’s managing director, said: “We’re doing all we can to reduce the impact of the Kessock Bridge works by providing a regular daytime timetable and increasing the number of coaches. We want to encourage people to use the train as a realistic alternative to the car.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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