A MAJOR transport study is to be carried out on a vital link road in the Highlands which is constantly plagued by landslips resulting in lengthy diversions.
Businesses and organisations affected by the A890 Stromeferry Bypass are being invited to take part in a bid to help shape options for improving the 12km section of road between Lochcarron and Kyle.
The section of public road alongside the southern shore of Loch Carron has been periodically subject to landslides and rockfalls – sometimes forcing motorists into a 140-mile diversion.
The last major landslip resulted in the road being closed for four months in order to enable remedial works to the rock slopes.
A Highland Council spokesman said: Temporary closure of the road forces both road and rail users to undertake a major temporary road diversion resulting in significant additional transport costs to businesses and organisations, both in the locality and further afield.
“In order to assess the potential issues more clearly, Highland Council has appointed [consultants] URS to carry out a transport assessment addressing the problem of rock fall on the A890 Stromeferry Bypass and how this affects both businesses and other organisations.
“The council and URS are inviting businesses and organisations to contribute to this strategically critical transport study.”
When 100 tonnes of rock fell on the road in December 2011 a temporary road was placed along the railway line using rubber matting and a ferry had to be brought in to help children get to school.
It wasn’t until 23 April last year when it was reopened, costing Highland Council £2.8million to deal with.
The alternatives being looked at and include building a bridge or causeway across the Strome narrows, driving a new road inland or substantially upgrading the existing route.
However the cost could reach over £100 million and work may take up to three years to get under way.
The bridge is costed at £60m, a 1.2 mile tunnel is valued at £94m and a new, longer bypass runs to about £23m.
Stabilising the rock face next to the Stromeferry bypass at £69 million and a £109m project involving cutting rock from the hillside and widening the road.
Dumping tonnes of rock into Loch Carron to give enough space for a new stretch of road next to the nearby railway line has been estimated at £115m.
The A890 helps to connect Lochcarron to Plockton, and its high school, and eventually with Kyle, on the opposite side of Loch Carron.
The road runs across the top of the sea loch to link up with the A896, the main road to Lochcarron.
While the bypass was closed, drivers face having to take a 140-mile diversion, instead of the usual 18 miles from Lochcarron to Plockton.