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£9.6m Berriedale Braes road revamp opens to traffic

The Berriedale Braes in Caithness
The Berriedale Braes in Caithness

A massive £9.6million roads project to improve the most notorious section of the A9 at the Berriedale Braes in Caithness has opened to traffic.

Work resumed on the scheme in June to help improve the long-time traffic bottleneck.

Contractors were given the go-ahead to restart after having to suspend operations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dingwall-based RJ McLeod is carrying out the £9.6 million project to re-profile and widen the north hairpin bend on the trunk road.

The new stretch of road had been scheduled to have been completed by Easter, but became one of the many construction projects to be delayed by Covid-19.

At its peak the project supported over 50 jobs during construction.

Berriedale Braes work to restart

The improved road alignment, which involved removing an existing hairpin bend, will improve journey times and enhance road safety by removing the need for vehicles to slow down or stop to negotiate the bend.

Transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson said: “I welcome the opening of this key improvement project today, which will now begin to deliver improved road safety as well as better journey times for A9 road users.

“I would also like to pass on my appreciation to the contractor, RJ McLeod for their hard work and effort in constructing this project.

“They have been mindful from the outset of the strategic importance of this key route in the picturesque Scottish Highlands and the need to balance the delivery of complex engineering works with measures to mitigate impacts on the surrounding environment.

“During a visit last summer, I was able to see some of the measures the contractor took including using alternative techniques to remove a vast quantity of rock while avoiding disturbance of the nearby coastal bird colony during breeding season.”

The Berriedale Braes

Contractor RJ McLeod will remain on site for a period of time to undertake necessary finishing and landscaping work.

A temporary 30 mph speed restriction will be in place for around seven days after the road opening to allow the workforce to safely carry out landscaping and verge works adjacent to the road.

Scott Marr, site agent for contractor RJ McLeod, said: “We are delighted to see the works concluded and the new road opened at A9 Berriedale Braes.

“The works have been designed and constructed to alleviate previous issues with tight bends and steep gradients on this notorious stretch of road.

“We trust that the travelling public will now enjoy a safer and more comfortable travel experience on this stretch of the A9.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community and the general travelling public for their patience throughout the construction period.”

Michael MacLean, AECOM technical director, added: “The opening of this much anticipated improvement to the Scotland’s trunk road network is another key milestone for the project.

“Following years of planning, local road users, who regularly travel along this route, will now benefit from more efficient and safer journeys through this beautiful part of the Scottish Highlands.”

 

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