A contentious scheme to dual an important road in Moray, via Fochabers, has divided opinion among community leaders.
Transport Scotland’s decision to take the north route on the outskirts of a Moray village for its A96 dualling plan has been slated as “cheap and cheerful” by one local councillor.
The Hardmuir to Fochabers preferred option was announced last week by transport chiefs and will go north of Forres, south of Elgin and north of Fochabers, leading to new crossings of the Rivers Findhorn, Lossie and Spey.
It will be a 28-mile section of road with the public offered the chance to air their views on the plans last week during a series of public exhibitions.
Split into three sections, the Lhanbryde to East of Fochabers route has been met with a mixed reaction from some community leaders.
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Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Marc Macrae feels that although the option chosen was “cheap and cheerful,” it is not the right option for future development in the village.
He said: “In Fochabers, the south route seemed like a better solution for the future of transport in the village, but you can see why they chose the north one.
“I am concerned they have not done enough geological surveys, so they might get a few surprises when it comes to building the road with the amount of wetlands in the way.
“At the moment, I feel there is not enough volume of traffic to justify the scheme and a better solution would be a bypass in Nairn, Elgin and Keith.”
However, Gordon Christie, chairman of the Fochabers Village Association, believes the better option won out in the end.
He said: “I think overall, the better of the options was chosen, certainly for the area around Fochabers, because it will cause less disruption and with the choice of a new bridge being built.
“Obviously, there are going to be winners and losers, but the village has already benefited from the bypass which made it easier for people to come through and, the sooner they get this scheme finished, the better.”
The ambitious plans to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen is scheduled to be finished by 2030 and will deliver 88 miles of upgraded road.
It is aiming to save locals over 20 minutes of travelling time between Hardmuir and Fochabers.