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Revealed: Government rejected council plea to extend 50mph limit at Laurencekirk junction

Work is due to begin on long-awaited upgrades at Laurencekirk junction.
Work is due to begin on long-awaited upgrades at Laurencekirk junction.

Ministers turned down pleas from Aberdeenshire Council to extend the 50mph speed limit at the notorious Laurencekirk junction earlier this year.

Work is due to start on improvements to the interchange, where the A90 and A937 meet, once several objections have been resolved.

But work has not yet begun, while the junction has seen an increase in traffic since the closure of the Oatyhill bridge.

That means drivers accessing the handful of homes from the northbound carriageway have to turn right just as the speed limit increases from 50mph to 70mph.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information legislation have now revealed Aberdeenshire Council officials asked Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government body responsible, to extend the stretch covered by the lower speed limit.

In November 2020 the local authority said this would be to protect drivers using the Oatyhill junction until the flyover, part of the planned new layout, is completed.

However, after meetings which took place in March, Transport Scotland responded saying it would “not be appropriate” to extend the speed limit.

Laurencekirk junction fears ‘dismissed out of hand’

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie accused ministers of dismissing the concerns “completely out of hand”.

“The 50mph restriction has undoubtedly had a major impact on casualty accidents over the past several years,” Mr Bowie said.

Andrew Bowie said ministers were dismissing residents’ concerns ‘completely out of hand’.

“Completing the junction is a massive priority for the council, Transport Scotland and myself.

“But while the experts are at the drawing board, a temporary extension would have little effect on journey times, but it would provide some safety for people joining the A90 and a cushion on speeds going north.

“This seems to have been dismissed completely out of hand by Transport Scotland, which doesn’t seem to take into account the massive increase in local traffic, particularly turning right on to the A90, since the bridge was closed.”

Junction layout ‘consistent’

Residents claim they have been met with aggression from other drivers when slowing down to access their homes.

Plans for major upgrades at Laurencekirk junction.

They also say there have been several near misses, with motorists having to take evasive action to avoid collisions.

Transport Scotland gave the current layout of the junction as its reason for refusing the request when we approached the organisation for comment.

“The provisions for drivers entering or leaving the A90 at Oatyhill are consistent with many similar at-grade junctions on this route, affording excellent visibility and provision for drivers turning right in or out of the side road,” a spokeswoman added.

“In addition, a 50mph speed limit extension would require alterations to the existing average speed camera system at this location.”

 

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