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Prioritising and maintaining Scotland's trunk road network

Transport Scotland is responsible for maintaining trunk roads and bridges and structures -  we prioritise repairs and improvements to ensure safe travel and steady movement of traffic.

We have contracts in place with the Operating Companies BEAR Scotland, Amey and Scotland Transerv to deliver this work.

Our remit and priorities

Work on the Kessock bridge, picture courtesy Bear Scotland

Transport Scotland's maintenance remit includes:

Maintenance programme

The trunk road network is subject to wear and tear and a significant proportion of the maintenance budget is spent addressing these deteriorations in order to maintain the structural integrity of the roads.

Transport Scotland‘s review process requires Operating Companies to obtain approval before any new maintenance scheme can go ahead.

The process requires detailed evidence and a robust assessment against the priority and value for money.

The outcome of this is a one-year implementation programme and a further two year planning programme.

Road condition surveys

Road condition surveys are undertaken annually to ensure best value is achieved from our trunk road maintenance programme.

Operating Companies analyse the information obtained and use this to plan maintenance works across the network. 

All the road condition data is pulled together in Transport Scotland’s computerised Pavement Management System.

The proposed maintenance schemes are prioritised to provide best value for money maintenance programmes. Condition trends are also monitored closely.

There are three types of vehicle based survey:

  • Deflectograph - to measure the strength of the road structure
  • SCANNER - to identify surface defects
  • SCRIM - to measure the skidding resistance of the road surface


Transport Scotland has used the Deflectograph survey vehicle for over 20 years to provide an indication of road strength. Measuring the condition of all road layers determines the long term budget requirements needed to maintain the structural integrity of the trunk road network. This provides reliable estimates of the remaining useful life of the road and identifies areas requiring strengthening.

SCANNER (Surface Condition Assessment for the National NEtwork of Roads)

This vehicle measures and records surface condition and ride quality on the trunk road network. From this Transport Scotland can assess the lengths of road which require resurfacing or overlaying of the surface layer.

SCRIM (Sideways Co-efficient Routine Investigation Machine)

The SCRIM survey helps reduce accident rates by measuring the wet skidding resistance of a road surface. This helps to lower accident rates by identifying where there is a risk of skidding on wet roads.

The approach provides a sustainable policy by targeting the best skid resistant materials to the highest risk areas. The investigation of sites can be undertaken to help reduce accidents, provide continuous improvement in accident rates and provide best value.

Managing road works

In some cases, maintenance operations may lead to unavoidable delays at road works.

To minimise disruption, we programme the works to take place during quieter periods whenever possible.

See also: Road safety and road works

DBFO contracts

In addition to regular maintenance, we operate individual “Design, Build, Finance and Operate” (DBFO) for some of our larger contracts, such as the:

Road Asset Management Plan

The Road Asset Management Plan (RAMP), published in January 2016, sets out how we manage the trunk road network.

Maintenance queries and reporting faults

If you notice any defects along any parts of the trunk road network or have any other queries relating to the management of the trunk roads you can contact our customer care telephone number: 0800 028 1414. This is free to call from landlines.  

You can also contact the relevant Operating Company through their websites. 

For trunk roads in North East and North West Scotland, please use the BEAR Scotland online form.

For trunk roads in South East, please use the Amey online form.

For trunk roads in South West Scotland please use the Scotland TranServ online form

Faults on local roads should be reported to your local road authority.

If you are not sure whether the road is a trunk road, you can check our map of the trunk road network and official list of trunk roads.


Legal responsibility to keep land clear of litter and other refuse and to keep roads clean is outlined in Section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 with further guidance on expected standards of compliance contained in the Scottish Government’s Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 imposes a duty on local authorities and certain other landowners and occupiers (the duty bodies) to keep specified land clear of litter and refuse so far as is practicable. The Act also places a duty on local authorities or Scottish Ministers to keep public roads clean so far as is practicable.

The term “litter” has a broad interpretation, being anything that it is thrown down, dropped or deposited and left that causes defacement, in a public place by any person but excludes detritus, recent leaf and blossom.

Transport Scotland, through its Operating Companies, is responsible for the clearance of litter from motorways and from  a small number of other routes (Special Roads):

  • A1 Old Craighall (A720) to Thistly Cross (B6370) (South East Unit operating company);
  • A720 Edinburgh City Bypass (South East Unit operating company);
  • A80 Castlecary to Old Inns (M80 DBFO);
  • Skye Bridge (NorthWest Unit operating company);
  • A898 Erskine Bridge (South West Unit operating company);
  • A90 Forth Bridges (Forth Bridges operating company)

Clearance of litter from all other trunk roads (i.e. the majority of trunk roads) is the responsibility of the relevant local authority.

The Operating Companies remove well over 100tonnes of litter annually from Scotland’s motorways and special roads. Carrying out this work requires imposition of traffic management to ensure the safety of the workforce carrying out this often unpleasant task – which at a number of locations throughout the network is necessary as often as weekly.

Traffic Management - usually hard shoulder or lane closures - but in some cases complete closures of slip roads, causes delay and inconvenience to all road users and the need to implement and remove traffic management itself introduces an unnecessary risk to workforce and road users alike.

Scotland’s Trunk Roads make an important contribution to the economy and the delays caused by traffic management to clear litter increases costs to all road users. Trunk Roads are important for tourism and the presence of litter on the verges and in laybys and picnic areas leaves a very poor impression in the minds of visitors.

Transport Scotland and its Operating Companies are supporting Keep Scotland Beautiful’ s Roadside Litter Campaign and associated initiatives which are aimed at highlighting the issue and addressing the problems created by Roadside Litter.


Lighting provision covers the design, installation, operation and maintenance of functions including street lighting, illuminated signs and illuminated bollards. Effective lighting provides benefits including:

  • reducing personal injury accidents
  • facilitating a smooth flow of traffic on high speed routes
  • reducing crime and fear of crime in rural towns and villages
  • creating safe access for use of sustainable modes of transport, including public transport, cycling and walking
  • providing safe access to leisure and educational facilities
  • assisting emergency services in effective identification of location and detail of events and incidents
  • enhancing CCTV coverage during night time to assist road network management.

Transport Scotland considers the use of lighting on trunk roads on a case-by-case basis. The decision is often based on whether or not an identifiable link exists between accidents during the hours of darkness and the absence of street lighting.

We also take into account the potential impacts on the environment including the need to minimise light pollution, improve environmental sustainability and our desire to reduce energy consumption.

Reducing energy consumption

The Scottish Government has published guidance on controlling light polution and reducing lighting energy consumption.

Lighting accounts for around 86 percent of the energy consumption associated with roadside electrical apparatus.

This equates to approximately 31GWh per annum.

Transport Scotland is considering a range of options to manage the energy consumption from its roadside electrical assets - including lighting on trunk roads.

New technologies are adopted to reduce consumption and trials are in place to facilitate innovation. Transport Scotland is developing a road map to implement efficient, effective and intelligent operation of lighting assets on the trunk road network.

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