Motorists and commuters are to be hit with a double whammy of traffic chaos in Inverness as two major routes are to be closed for roadworks.
Culloden Road, leading to busy the Inshes roundabout – which serves a retail park, Raigmore Hospital, the police headquarters, a business park and a bingo hall – will be closed “overnight” from Monday, for 12 hours over four nights.
Critics have hit out at the “early” starting time of 6.30pm to allow widening of the carriageway, with an MSP stating the timing should be much later and local councillor Duncan Macpherson claiming there will pandemonium”.
Then a junction on the A82 Inverness to Fort William road on the other side of the city, at Tomnahurich Street and Kenneth Street, will be closed for three days from next weekend for Scottish Water to carry out work.
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart said he was pleased the Culloden upgrade was taking place, but said: “Closing this route at 6.30pm is also going to cause chaos.
“I would have thought a later closing time after peak rush hour would be the better option. All that will happen is that motorists will be pushed onto other less suitable routes.”
He also expressed concern at the A82 works, claiming traffic will come to a gridlock as the complete closure coincides with a concert at Northern Meeting Park as part of the Blas Festival.
The MSP said: “I have to wonder if they could be better managed. I am at a loss as to why in ‘hot spot’ traffic areas such essential work is not carried out at night.
“Do all these major roadworks, one at each side of the city, have to take place in the same seven day period. Can they not be staggered?
“We try to encourage people to come into the city to work, reside or visit and on the other hand, here we have an example of making if as difficult as possible for those same persons to get around the city.”
Councillor Macpherson, speaking about the Culloden closure, said: “I think it will cause traffic chaos because at nights. There is already a problem with the one lane there and the traffic lights that start at 7pm.
“I think it is way too early to start and it will cause pandemonium. With the traffic lights there are already tailbacks all the way down the A9.
“It is too dangerous. Right now residents in Milton of Leys are already worried about the extra traffic that pass through there trying to avoid the existing congestion and this will make it worse.
“The idea is that they will aim to finish ahead of time with the fourth night scheduled in case of delays or extreme weather or accidents.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The final stages of the carriageway widening works have been reached and now the council’s contractors need road closures to allow resurfacing of the road to take place.
“There will be no vehicular access, however access for pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained throughout the closures.
“Diversions will be in place and signposted with variable message signs in place from today to warn motorists of the impending overnight closures.
The widening works are to add an additional westbound lane for city centre traffic. The scheme will provide two continuous lanes for traffic between the Inverness Campus junction and Inshes Roundabout.
The spokeswoman added: “We made every effort to keep traffic flowing throughout the works and are only making these overnight closures where absolutely necessary.”
Regarding the work at Kenneth Street and Tomnahurich Street, a Scottish Water spokeswoman said “careful preparations” were made to make as little disruption as possible, in consultation with Highland Council, the trunk roads authority, and local elected representatives, adding: “During this phase of work, diversions will be clearly signposted for traffic using the A82.”