A campaign group has said it could be 10 years before traffic congestion in Lochaber is resolved – and that’s only if the pressure on the Scottish Government is kept up.
The A82 Partnership says that lack of political clout, and a relatively small population, means that a much anticipated by-pass project in Fort William will not see light of day for up to a decade.
In the last week alone, commuters have complained of gridlock through the town from the north – regularly lasting for up to 45 minutes – while at the height of the rush hour, delays on the road can be in excess of 90 minutes.
Stewart MacLean, of the A82 Partnership campaign group said: “It will be between five and 10 years until the road is allocated the funding that is needed to ease the congestion in the town.
“That is how long it takes to get a major project of this size onto the government’s agenda for funding. We are not Edinburgh or Aberdeen, we don’t have the same political clout or sizeable population.
“No one wants to think that we are going to have another five to ten years of the congestion – but the only solution to get the funding we require is to keep the pressure up.”
Kate Forbes MSP, who has been a strong advocate for a long-term solution for the congestion woes in Fort William, said: “I’m very aware that the A82 in Fort William desperately needs an alternative route to reduce the chronic congestion. Nobody, least of all me, is willing to wait years for that to be delivered.
“It won’t happen overnight but I won’t stop lobbying and working towards a new road as a matter of urgency.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We appreciate the desire in local communities along the A82 to see improvement works carried out sooner rather than later.
“However, it is vital we take time to ensure any measures aimed at addressing current issues are robust, and any wider measures are future-proofed so they continue to deliver long-term benefits.
“Further assessment of the transport network is being undertaken and may identify some possible measures to ease the traffic problems experienced at peak times.
“This work will also provide useful evidence for the second Strategic Transport Projects Review, which will deliver a strategic investment plan for transport in Scotland for the next 20 years.”