Transport Scotland’s decision to reduce the speed limit on stretches of the main road between the West Highlands and Glasgow was criticised by campaigners this week.
Speed limits will be reduced from the national level of 60mph to 50mph from Tarbet to Inverarnan, Onich to Fort William and Glen Gloy to Letterfindlay Lodge — a total length of over 25 miles. Transport Scotland describe these sections of road as “generally not representative of a national speed limit”.
Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart criticised the “Cinderella status” of the A82.
“When it comes to investment, it’s clear that the A82, like Cinderella, is the poor relation to other key routes for travellers in Scotland and the Highlands,” he said. “Significant investment is needed to upgrade the road to a standard appropriate to its lifeline status for Lochaber and Argyll.
“The current approach of simply adding restrictions to sections of the route is quite inadequate, if we are to have a safe and efficient main trunk road for the West Highlands. Towns and communities here are already significantly disadvantaged by geography.
“The standard of the A82 only compounds the issues of cost and time they face just to stay and to do business here.”
Mr Stewart said he had written to Keith Brown to seek a meeting to discuss what can be done to make progress on this.
Mr Stewart welcomed Transport Scotland’s commitment to improving certain sections of the road and emphasised that the route “desperately needs improvement” to allow safe and efficient movement of traffic and to cut travel times.
Transport Scotland describe the sections of road being downgraded as “rural alignment, and may include sharp bends, narrow verges, frequent double white line systems, undulating and with low forward visibility”.
Commenting on this latest restriction on traffic flow on the A82 Councillor Brian Murphy, chairman of the A82 Partnership said: “This is official recognition by Transport Scotland that the A82 does not come up to national network standards. It is regrettable that, rather than investing in the A82, they are applying a speed restriction.
“The A82 Partnership already recognises that the priorities for upgrading the A82 are Tarbet to Inverarnan and Onich to Fort William but Transport Scotland have now identified a third priority being the section of road between Glen Gloy and Letterfindlay Lodge.”
A spokesperson for the A82 Partnership added: “With billions of pounds being spent on the glamour projects on theA9 and the A96 it is surely time that the A82 is recognised as part of the national network and brought up to the standards required of such a network. The A82 is as important to the economy of the West Highlands and Islands as the A9 is to Inverness and beyond.”
Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “We understand the importance of the A82 to communities and we are in regular discussion with them about our plans for the maintenance of the route with £57 million invested since 2007.
“We are taking forward work to improve the route between Tarbet and Inverarnan with ground investigations taking place over the next couple of months to help inform the ongoing work to design a preferred route by next summer.
“Work is also continuing on the £9.2 million scheme at Pulpit Rock to remove the bottleneck there and on the construction of the £5 million A82 Crianlarich bypass.”