Denise Collins has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions in the last few days.
As a campaigner against the one-way system introduced to Castle Street in Inverness, she is delighted it is to be scrapped.
But with the news that it could take months to revert to two-way traffic, she fears further impact on her business at a busy time.
“I went from despair to elation and back to despair,” she said.
Up to 14 weeks to scrap one-way system
The controversial traffic system will be undone after councillors went against officials’ recommendation to keep it.
Bollards erected as part of Spaces for People interventions during the pandemic will be removed in a couple of weeks.
But Highland Council planners say it could take up to 14 weeks to bring back two-way traffic to Castle Street.
Ms Collins, who owns Castle Gallery, said the delay is “totally unacceptable”.
“The planning department officers said the one-way system should be continued, which is ludicrous.
“Thankfully, councillors voted against it. But then I learned it will take 12 to 15 weeks to make the one-way system two-way again.
“That’s totally unacceptable. That’s three months leading up to Christmas and the busiest three months of the year.”
‘People are not coming into town’
Ms Collins believes the situation has been made worse by the bollards.
She added: “In particular, they don’t come to Castle Street because of the one-way system, congestion and having to wait in queues of traffic.”
Castle Street traders have held a private meeting with local MP Drew Hendry to discuss their grievances.
These also include the building works and the need for more parking.
Tania Korad Kennedy, of Rouge Boutique, is “thrilled” at the scrapping of the one-way system which she attributes to losing 50% of custom.
She said: “It’s like Christmas coming early. People have not been coming in because it is just too difficult to get here.”
She is also urging the council to accelerate the return to a two-way system.
“It seemed to take them less than 24 hours to change the bollards from orange to black ones.
“So I don’t understand how it would take them that long to put it back into place.
“If we could understand their thought process it would make it easier for us. But when there is not consultation it makes us angry when things are not happening.”
‘We have a target to work to’
Norman MacDonald, who runs Café 1, also welcomes the return to a two-way Castle Street.
He said: “The result is positive. The council is now under a bit of pressure to make it happen a little bit quicker. Hopefully that pressure is effective.”
But he said a delay in returning to two-way is understandable: “We have to be patient.
“In 14 weeks time the world will be a better place and we now have a target to work to.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Covid interventions for the ‘Castle’ Spaces for People will be removed within a couple of weeks.
“However, the traffic signals at the junction of View Place and Castle Street requires to be completely reconstructed following the members’ decision.
“Due to current delays in manufacturing supply chains and existing staff commitments on other signal works this may take up to 14 weeks to complete.
“However, if we are able to complete this work sooner, then the road will revert to two-way earlier.
Reversing the Castle Street system will take some time
“The change from two-way traffic to one-way required changes to traffic signals that took us some time to design, procure and deliver.
“Similarly, to reverse that change will take some time.”
She said work will be done as early as possible to remove temporary bollards and schedule the signalling works.
Consideration was given to installing temporary signals, she said.
But these are not coordinated with traffic and the wider network so would cause delays.
The spokeswoman added: “We remain committed to look at a long-term solution.
“We shall be consulting widely on developing proposals and this will include the local businesses.”
Other Spaces for People measures to stay
Following this week’s meeting of the council’s Inverness city committee, Spaces for People along Academy Street will stay, with some tweaks.
These include the council working with disability groups on alternative temporary measures.
The council is looking to attract funds for permanent changes to the city centre.
A one-way system on Riverside Way will also remain, after a 10-9 vote in its favour.
On Millburn Road, a cycle lane is being retained from the Morrisons crossing to the Eastgate underpass, with the rest reverting to road.