I am fully aware of the current works being carried out at the Stromeferry bypass and equally aware that there can be delays of up to three hours. This fact is causing a lot of frustration locally and to many, the option of a 140 mile round trip is a non starter for what is normally a 30 minute 23 mile journey.
As a result I contacted a senior official within Highland Council and was told that on Thursday 27 September, there will be a community meeting in Lochcarron Village Hall to discuss the issues and frustration with the current works. There will be a drop in session between 2pm and 5.30pm and a presentation between 6pm and 7pm. Thereafter there will be a general question time, so I would encourage as many people as possible to attend. Unfortunately I will be in the Scottish Parliament and cannot attend in person.
With regards to the long term plans, I was afraid over the months and years that I have been involved that they may have got kicked into the long grass. This appears to have been the case. It appears that Highland Council are looking at three corridors of interest. The North route, (behind the village) the South route (Glen Udalain) and the online route – basically moving the rail line out into the sea area and moving the road to where the rail line currently is situated. The latest STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) has been submitted to the Scottish Government seeking support from the Government with regards funding. This appraisal is now on the desk of the current Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP.
I understand that during Highland Council’s consideration of the capital five year spending plan in the spring of this year, that no finance was set aside for a new route. However there continues to be a £1m allocated for current works.
This saga has gone on too long. In my view this route should be a trunk road as it is the gateway to the islands via Skye and South West Ross.The Stomeferry Bypass was opened in 1970 and at that time was hailed as a great achievement. However, it was built along the Moine Thrust, a geological area of shattered and fragile rock. Over the period since the road was opened there has been many landslides and near misses. It is an absolute miracle that no one has been killed over the last 48 years.
This issue has dragged on and dragged on, school children travel the route everyday, people use the route to go to work daily and it is well used by tourist and sightseers alike. It is not acceptable that the local Government and the Scottish Government have not come up with a safe alternative by now and instead choose to bicker about whose responsibility it is.
I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, today and asked him to move this issue up his ‘to do list’ and bring to an end the uncertainty caused to motorists and parents of school children who use this route every day wondering if they will be struck by landslide or falling rocks.