The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership has warmly welcomed proposals for a major upgrade of a ten mile stretch of the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan, believing they present an opportunity to deliver a transformational improvement for all users.
They say national statistics show that accident rates on the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan are considerably higher than the national average, with road safety significantly poorer than comparable non-built-up single carriageway roads, across the trunk road network as a whole. Between 2015 and 2019, there were 48 accidents between Tarbet and Inverarnan. Of these, two were fatal, 19 were serious and the remaining 27 were slight accidents.
In a response to a Transport Scotland consultation on the proposed upgrade, HITRANS Chair Councillor Allan Henderson, Lochaber, said: “Local communities are reliant on the A82 for almost every aspect of their economy, be it the transportation of freight, public transport and visitors as well as their own local access to key services and Scotland’s largest city. This section, which is only 40 miles from the centre of Glasgow, is currently not fit for purpose with HGVs and coaches unable to pass each other without mounting the verge at several locations.
“We therefore welcome the proposals for the final scheme included within the consultation. The proposed solution for a 7.3metre carriageway plus hardstrips, together with a segregated active travel route on the shores of Loch Lomond, present an opportunity to deliver a transformational improvement for all users. These proposals will help tackle the well documented road safety issues affecting this section. They will also help address multiple other issues affecting the route, including; dramatically improve journey times and journey time reliability thereby reducing carbon emissions; significantly reduce driver frustration; improve the resilience of the trunk road network on the West Coast by reducing the impact of enforced closures from flooding and vegetation clearance that currently affect the route which itself is the diversion for the A83 Trunk Road when the Rest and Be Thankful is impassable.”
Councillor Henderson said he had been impressed by the proposed new alignment of the corridor, in particular at constrained sections such as the ‘Seven Bends’ section North of Inveruglas. In addition, the accommodation of a segregated active travel corridor on the shores of Loch Lomond would open up the area to walkers and cyclists for the first time.
He also welcomed the improved connectivity to public transport the scheme would offer at Ardlui, with improved access to the rail station and bus laybys at Tarbet.
He felt there should there should be additional bus laybys next to existing development at Inveruglas and Loch Lomond Holiday Park.. The proposals for new laybys would offer welcome viewpoints and stopping locations for HGV’s and the new layout and alignment would dramatically improve vistas over Loch Lomond.
The consultation sought views on the timescales for delivering the scheme given its inter-relationship with the A83 and also how the phasing of the 17km upgrade should be prioritised.
Councillor Henderson wrote: “HITRANS is of the view that Transport Scotland should ensure that there is a single governance structure overseeing the delivery of both the A82 and A83 upgrades. This will help ensure that the phasing of the two projects is complementary and any conflicts between the implementation programmes for the two schemes are resolved. HITRANS would support the commencement of the statutory processes for the A82 Tarbet to Inverarnan scheme at the earliest opportunity.”
He recognised the significant challenges in delivering the project given the length of any diversion routes. “We support the principle of restricting construction where possible to the October-Easter period. We also support overnight closures as a means of extending the construction period and reducing the project delivery timescales and think that as with the Pulpit Rock scheme, the public will recognise the short-term impact for long term gain. Good communication as with previous schemes will ensure that this support is maintained.
“Identifying the sections which should be prioritised within the programme is challenging. Having reviewed the most recent proposals we feel there is a strong argument to support progressing those less challenging sections first so that the length of route where delays are experienced can be reduced more quickly by progressing the easier to deliver sections first.”
(Picture – Transport Scotland)