The Green Party has ridiculed Transport Scotland’s proposals for the East Inverness road link road by claiming the £60million route would save drivers only 10 to 20 seconds on their journey time.
Highland Council has teamed up with the government transport agency to unveil options to replace the Inshes Roundabout with a traffic light-controlled crossroads and create the East Link joining the A96 Inverness-Aberdeen route and the Inverness-Perth road.
But yesterday the Green Party argued that the proposals are a waste of tax-payers money and that the link road would decimate land which could otherwise be used for a district park in the city.
A previous proposal, involving a dual carriageway and major interchange, known as Option A, was lodged in response to the East Link plans – but this was dropped by the transport agency.
Anne Thomas, secretary of the Highlands and Islands branch of the Scottish Green Party, said: “Transport Scotland’s proposals reveal that its £60million A9-A96 link-road could divert only 10% or at most 20% of A96 peak-hour traffic.
“Spending £60million of tax-payers money to save a small minority of drivers a few seconds of time for just a couple of hours a day makes no sense at all. No mention is made of any savings during the rest of the day, probably because there wouldn’t be any.”
In response to the comments, a Transport Scotland said: “Our focus, working with ou partners Highland Council, is to address the traffic congestion issues on the A9 and A96 at Raigmore, Inshes and Longman junctions, including integrating other modes of transport like walking, cycling and public transport into the plans.
“We are currently consulting with the public on our early appraisal work and welcome all views on the proposals and opportunities which may exist in finding a workable solution.”
David McGrath, chairman of Smithton and Culloden community council, disagreed with the Green party’s objection to the proposals. He said: “It is not about a time saving of a few seconds here or there. It is about relieving traffic congestion and keeping traffic moving between the A9, B9006 and the A96.
“And it is about future-proofing the traffic management system in East Inverness. At the moment, Transport Scotland, UHI and Highland Council have their own agenda. If they combine their resources they will probably reduce the overall cost and come up with something that is more suitable for everybody. At the moment it is a cheap, short term fix.”
The Green party comments have come after a public exhibition staged earlier this week which laid out the possible route options.
The closing date for consultations is July 31.