Roadworks fail to ease Fort traffic gridlock


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Campaigners have been told that recent roadworks on the A82 in Fort William have had no impact on easing traffic grid lock in the town.

In June this year, the northbound approach to the Nevis Bridge roundabout on the North Road was widened to two lanes in an attempt to alleviate the ‘bottleneck’ which ground the town to a halt last summer during the peak tourist season.

However, the A82 Partnership has been advised this week by transport planning consultants that these adjustments have ‘not achieved the promised improvements’, meaning the town could be set for another summer of traffic chaos.

Lochaber councillor Ben Thompson, chairman of the A82 Partnership, feels this will come as ‘no surprise to local businesses and commuters’ who have, once again, endured weeks of disruption and delays on a daily basis.

Ben Thompson is the representative for Caol and Mallaig.

He said: ‘I am firmly of the opinion that no tinkering around with the present road network will significantly alleviate this unacceptable situation which impacts negatively on the local economy and the lives of the people of Lochaber.

‘It is time that infrastructure investment in the West Highlands was brought back into balance against the significant transport infrastructure investments in the central belt and the east of Scotland.’

The recently published Fort William Strategic Transport Study recommends that further investigation work be undertaken to explore both a realignment of the A82 and a link road between the A82 and the A830 to determine a preferred option. The A82 Partnership believes this investigation is ‘an urgent priority’ and has called for action.

Transport Scotland officials are due to meet the Fort William Congestion Working Group again early in the new year.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: ‘Officials met with the Fort William Congestion Working Group last month and agreed to commission a further report to identify additional improvements to the trunk road through Fort William.

‘We are committed to working with Highland Council on the second Strategic Transport Projects Review, which will take forward the recent transport studies completed for Fort William and Lochaber.’

Lochaber MSP Kate Forbes is also set to meet Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson to discuss A82 traffic congestion.

She said: ‘I still believe that we need short-term and long-term fixes to this problem, but the short-term fixes need to be far more radical. Time is of the essence and I will be pressing Transport Scotland to do far more for next summer.’