Nether Lochaber council in plea to transport minister over two-mile stretch of A82

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Nether Lochaber Community Council (NLCC) has kicked off the new year by beseeching the Scottish Government to intervene over the heads of roads authorities concerning a two-mile section of the A82 between Corran Ferry and Onich Bay. Council secretary Iain Jenner has written to Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson regarding safety fears on this stretch of the trunk road.

Mr Jenner tells Mr Matheson: ‘NLCC formally requests that your office investigates these issues and does not delegate them to representatives of Transport Scotland [TS], nor to those of its operating contractor BEAR. ‘It is our position that the issues described below are a result of a culture of collective failures within both organisations over time, and as such require independent scrutiny.’ Mr Jenner says that in 2010 this particular two-mile section of the A82, which was classed as high priority, was resurfaced.

And he tells Mr Matheson the reason for the letter is three-fold: firstly, since that resurfacing operation in 2010, four corners in this section of the A82 have required secondary operations either to replace the original work or to add anti-skid measures. Mr Jenner says the reason for all these secondary operations is the number of vehicles leaving the road, losing control due to surface conditions, and crashing and overturning through fences, hedges or walls into neighbouring croft land or gardens on either side of the carriageway. Mr Jenner goes on: ‘NLCC has kept a tally over the years – our most accurate figure currently is 58 – recently updated by three vehicles leaving the road near Oak Cottage in the space of a few days.

One of these destroyed a garden wall for a third time, and another broke a telegraph pole. ‘By contrast, we are aware of only one vehicle losing control on the carriageway in the section of the A82 where resurfacing work has not been carried out. ‘Most of these accidents have taken place in a 40mph limit area, or in locations where it is difficult to progress along the road in excess of 40mph despite having a higher limit.

‘There have been concerns over speeding for many years, raised by NLCC with TS and BEAR repeatedly, but it seems statistically unlikely that this number of vehicles losing control on a short section of trunk road can have taken place unless there were some defective element either with working methods or materials used during the 2010 resurfacing operation.’ Along with the letter, Mr Jenner has also included photographs taken last week showing two telephone cable/conduit drums, abandoned in a fast-flowing stream adjacent to the A82, 50m south of Nether Lochaber Village Hall, causing flooding problems for a local property. Mr Jenner said the presence of the first drum was first reported to BEAR in 2016 and as recently again as last month.

The second drum has appeared in the interim, and Mr Jenner says the lack of action given the length of time since first being report is unacceptable.

NLCC, he says, also has great concern at the number of repeated maintenance issues, particularly flooding, potholing, damage to culverts and blockages that happen on the A82 between Corran Ferry and Ballachulish Bridge, where the greater number of local residents live.

‘It is only by great fortune that no one has been killed or seriously injured by the conditions of the A82 in our villages, and while we accept that management of the trunk road network is a complex and demanding task, we do feel justified in asking for an intervention to better guarantee the safety of residents and visitors here,’ Mr Jenner told Mr Matheson.

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