Providing Safe and Sustainable Connections to the North and West Periphery of Scotland
S Wilson, Transport Scotland, UK; B Sloey, Jacobs Consultancy, UK
The paper discusses how improvements can be delivered on a significant route in the midst of the most attractive, yet challenging landscapes in Scotland. It suggests how the methods used on this route might be applied, both in Scotland and elsewhere.
Like many European countries, Scotland has a diversity of landscapes which impact on the operation and use of its transportation systems. Whilst much of the population of Scotland lives in and around its cities, significant populations live and work in remoter areas. The problems and issues associated with the transportation systems serving these areas are often very different from those encountered in urban situations. Industry and tourism are, for instance, crucial in supporting Scotland?s remoter communities, which in turn, creates specific demands for access between such areas and their markets.
The Scottish Government has defined it?s Purpose as being to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. The delivery of this Purpose will reflect the diversity of the nation and transportation improvements must be brought forward which address the issues and circumstances encountered in different places.
The Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), published by the Scottish Government in 2008, identified the benefits of bringing forward interventions to routes across Scotland. These include a targeted series of improvements on the A82 between Glasgow and Fort William. This route is the main connection from the Scotland?s central belt to its western seaboard and its island communities, including Skye and the Outer Hebrides.
The STPR built upon the previously published National Transport Strategy, which set out 3 strategic outcomes;
1. Improve journey times and connections;
2. Reduce emissions, and;
3. Improve quality, accessibility and affordability.
The paper discusses how improvements can be delivered on a significant route which runs through some of the most attractive, yet challenging landscapes in Scotland. It also suggests how the methods adopted to identify and deliver improvements on this route might be more generally applied, both in Scotland and elsewhere.
The significant challenges facing delivery include the physical constraints imposed by the landscape and sensitive environments through which it passes. For much of its length, the route runs through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Glen Coe National Scenic Area. These, and other locations along the A82 are designated as Ramsar sites, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation or areas of other environmental and landscape importance.
There are few diversionary routes and all works conducted on the A82 must reflect the realities imposed by its setting. This constraint, coupled with the various environmental designations in the surrounding woodlands, hillsides and waterbodies, limits the potential for even modest upgrades or general maintenance. The Loch Lomondside section is, however, one of the parts of the A82 most in need of substantial physical improvement.
Safety is also an issue on many parts of the A82. The existing carriageway standard often contributes to a high risk environment. Sections of the route have been classed as medium-high risk within the European Road Assessment Programme. The combination of local trips, longer distance freight movements and a highly seasonal tourist flow create competing demands and add to the pressures on the route.
The competing demands for the safe and efficient use of the A82 are reflected in the differing aspirations of local authorities, regional transport partnerships, environmental agencies and other interests along the route. One of the most challenging aspects of taking forward any programme of improvements will be building a consensus amongst these disparate bodies.
The Scottish Government is, however, committed to undertaking a targeted programme of measures to improving the route by addressing existing safety issues and removing the constraints that impact on journey time reliability. By doing so, it will both support its Purpose and set out a means by which nationally significant transport links can be improved even in the most challenging and sensitive of circumstances.
The paper discusses how these outcomes can be delivered on the A82. It reviews the use of evidence to inform decision making processes and considers the factors impacting the identification and assessment of options. The role of consultation and working with stakeholders to ensure that improvements have the optimum impact, yet sit within the context defined by the challenges which exist and overall limits on the available funding is examined.
Association for European Transport