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The timing of overnight roadworks aimed at combating congestion on the A82 in Fort William has been labelled a ‘mystery’ by a local councillor.
Residents received a letter from BEAR Scotland last week outlining its plans to widen the northbound approach to the Nevis Bridge roundabout to two lanes to alleviate the ‘bottleneck’ which ground the town to a halt last summer during the peak tourist season.
The work will start on Sunday June 17 for up to eight nights from 7pm to 6am. The road will remain open using three-way traffic lights.
Lochaber councillor Andrew Baxter has questioned the timing of the roadworks, which coincide with the start of this year’s summer tourist season.
He said: ‘Transport Scotland’s scheduling remains a mystery to me. It’s as though someone in a dark office in Edinburgh stabs a pin into a calendar and always comes up with the most inconvenient dates possible. However, in the past, objection has often led to cancellation. I wouldn’t want that to happen to this short-term fix.’
Mr Baxter explained problems with congestion in Fort William are partly caused by southbound traffic hesitating at the bridge roundabout which, although just for a few seconds, can cause bunching and tailbacks along North Road.
‘I hope this alleviates the problem,’ added Mr Baxter, ‘but Transport Scotland shouldn’t think this solves all the issues. With Liberty expanding and houses proposed for Blar Mhor, we need the A82 realigned to take traffic away from the Nevis Bridge bottleneck. I will continue to push for that with Scottish ministers.’
This phase of work, to be carried out by BEAR Scotland, involves widening the northbound approach lane to two lanes and reducing the size of the splitter island. A pedestrian crossing and new signs will also be incorporated.
Kate Forbes MSP said reducing congestion in Fort William has been a priority over the winter and spring.
She explained: ‘Together with councillors and local residents, we have been working with Transport Scotland on short term work to relieve the worst of the congestion. Although I’d have liked to see these works start earlier in the year, there was a surprising number of aspects to sort out before work could start.
‘The long term solution is a new road and consultants are currently drawing up options. None of these things can happen overnight, particularly when businesses and residents are affected. I hope it is assuring to frustrated drivers that we have been working really hard to put a short term solution in place and have further plans to alleviate congestion.’
Last summer, Fort William roads ground to a halt during July and August, with regular tailbacks of up to seven miles on the A82.
Lochaber MP Ian Blackford said: ‘I am glad to hear some action to try and address at least part of this problem is under way.’
The northbound approach at Nevis Bridge roundabout will be widened to two lanes. IF F23 Nevis Roundabout 01. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, Alba.photos.