Wester Ross residents yesterday attended a drop-in session in Lochcarron to hear more about the remedial work planned for the Stromeferry bypass – regularly hit by landslips.
The A890 at Stromeferry is an important route to Kyle of Lochalsh, Skye and the outer isles and closing it involves a 130-mile diversion.
It has steep, unstable cliff faces along one side.
These are prone to rock fall, and require daily drive-through and monthly walk-through inspections to ensure the safety of drivers and rail passengers on Kyle line which runs alongside.
Highland Council has responsibility for the road, and last year spent £1.2 million stabilising the rock faces.
The work ,which lasted for twelve weeks, caused long delays and issues over the timing of closures with tailbacks stretching back miles at times.
Last year’s report by geotechnical consultant AECOM Infrastructure and Environment Ltd revealed further highly unstable rock faces, and these are to be tackled this year with a budget of £1.9m and a further £800,000 next year.
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This year’s work is proposed for September and October, and will require night-time closures and daytime convoys.
The programme and exact dates of the work will be announced after the community consultation.
Stromeferry by-pass was opened to traffic in 1970, and much of the rock face has been netted to mitigate the risk of falling rocks reaching the road and railway.
But the rock along the by-pass is by nature unstable, and the council and local residents want to see an alternative route in place.
A cross-party options selection group has been formed to consider a preferred long term solution for Stromeferry Bypass, and met for the first time last month.
Any solution would cost multi-millions, out of reach of Highland Council for whom the ongoing maintenance is already a substantial drain on resources.
Transport minister Michael Matheson has told the council that Transport Scotland is reviewing their transport appraisal, but that as a local road, the council, ‘responsibility for a decision to upgrade or improve the route ultimately lies with the council and is not reliant on advice from Transport Scotland.’
This month AECOM engineers will carry out their annual inspection of the rock faces.