Stromeferry bypass replacement options to be considered by Highland Council

Two options – a bridge over the Strome Narrows and a new road through Glen Udalain – have been identified as a replacement for the Stromeferry bypass.

Highland Council are to hold a value-for-money workshop later this month to decide which of two options for a replacement for the Stromeferry bypass to recommend.

At last week’s meeting of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, members were told that deciding between a bridge over the Strome Narrows and a new road through Glen Udalain would be made over the next few weeks. The former has been costed at £105 million while the latter comes in at £57 million.

Minutes of a meeting of the Stromeferry Working Group, which were considered by the committee, stated that “neither option scored particularly well in terms of the cost to benefit ration” but that an alternative to the rock-fall prone bypass was important to the west coast economy.

Although Highland Council have pressed the Scottish Government to include the A890 as a trunk road, the minutes recorded that the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, refused to respond to the latest such request, submitted by council leader Margaret Davidson in May of last year.

However, a spokesman for Mr Matheson denied this.

He said: “A letter was received from the leader of the Highland Council dated 21st May 2019 and a response to this letter was issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity on 20th June 2019.”

Traffic lines up during the road to rail work undertaken at the Stromeferry bypass in October 2018.

Members of the working group are due to attend the value-for-money workshop on 21st February.

A spokeswoman added: “Immediately following this it is proposed that members make a recommendation of a preferred option. The council then needs to prepare a pack which will demonstrate the procedure and outcome from the working group. This pack will be provided to stakeholders who will be invited to express their support or opposition to the recommendation made by the working group. This will be forwarded to the original stakeholders for the options appraisal. This will include the local community groups as well as statutory consultees.”

A public meeting will also be held, but no date for this has yet been agreed, she said.

Article by Michael Russell, images by Willie Urquhart