Slide 1. Introduction - Welcome
Good Afternoon Everyone
Thank you for joining us here today for this Webinar on the North Kessock to Tore Project
I’m Sam MacNaughton and I’m a Stakeholder Manager with Transport Scotland.
I‘m very familiar with this part of the A9 since I used to live at Ferintosh just to the north of Tore and while working in Inverness I travelled this section of the A9 between Tore and Inverness every day for more than 20 years. So I know the road well.
I hope you find this presentation and the Webinar interesting and informative.
Slide 2. Introduction, Background & Methodology
For around the past year, Transport Scotland, our Consultants, WSP, and a wide range of local stakeholders have been involved in a study looking at and assessing the A9 between North Kessock and the Tore Roundabout. High on the agenda for this study is safety and the operational performance of this stretch of the A9 but not forgetting the junctions that connect the A9 to the local communities.
Here we are looking at current issues and opportunities but we are also looking into the future and the impact of existing and predicted traffic growth in the wider catchment area. We will also need to consider the strategic role the A9 plays in connectivity with the North of Scotland.
The study area includes the B9161 Munlochy Junction and Tore Roundabout, as well as the Artafallie, Allangrange, Arpafeelie, and Glackmore junctions.
The presentation will to provide you with detail on the stages involved in this study, some findings from that work that’s already been carried out, and explain the options that are being considered by Transport Scotland and our consultants, WSP. This process now involves putting these findings out to the public and listening to your views on each of these options.
This presentation will last for around 25 minutes and will explain what the options are and what we’re trying to achieve. The really important part is for you to log in to the consultation portal and give us your views and feedback on the various options presented.
A recording of this presentation will be available for the remainder of the consultation period, which runs until Friday 27 August.
If you need more information I’ll give you some contact details at the end of this presentation where you can get in touch with us.
Slide 3. STAG Process
This slide shows the four stages of a STAG appraisal process and we are currently in the Preliminary Appraisal stage. ( Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance – which is a normal process for these types of transport projects)
The public consultation is now live, and we have had a great response so far. In the first 24 hrs we have already had nearly a hundred responses. When the consultation closes at the end of August and all the responses are in, we will be able to narrow down which options can be taken forward into a detailed appraisal. That is the stage at which a formal decision is taken forward.
Every significant change on the transport network which is publicly funded through the Scottish Government needs to have an appraisal that’s based on evidence and is led by specific objectives. This stage is looking at each of the options that we have identified to find out which one or ones best matches those objectives.
The objectives, or more specifically, the Transport Planning Objectives, have been defined jointly with stakeholders and specifically for this study.
These Transport Planning Objectives were developed in conjunction with a wide range of local stakeholders based on the evidence available as well as considering wider policies and aims such as the environment, safety, the economy, integration, accessibility and social inclusion.
This slide shows the four Transport Planning Objectives that have been developed.
The first of these, TPO1, aims to reduce conflicts for those walking, cycling and wheeling within the study area.
The next 3, TPOs 2, 3 and 4 aim to improve vehicular road safety at the B9161 Munlochy Junction, the Tore Roundabout and also the intermediate junctions in between.
As options are developed further, these will be tested against these objectives, as well as other important criteria and parameters including feasibility, affordability and acceptability to find the best match for the desired outcomes.
Slide 6. Development of Options
This slide highlights what we started out with, a long list of around 40 different options. Over the past few months, we have worked again with stakeholders to narrow that list down, looking at what was both relevant and feasible, to get us to a point where we can now seek wider public opinions.
What we now have are options ranging from those that can be easily implemented in the short term, such as improved signage and road markings, to those that require a greater level of development such as changes to infrastructure. I’ll describe the individual options in a few moments.
Slide 7. Work Packages
What we’ve done is group these options into delivery timescales so we have 3 short-term packages, 1 medium-term and 1 longer-term.
Slide 8. Short Term Package A1
I’ll start with short-term Package A. These options A1 to A4 include options which could be delivered within a period of between 6 and 18 months.
We’re not proposing one option over another. Some of these will work better as part of a group and some may potentially cause issues in other places so that’s why we’re looking at them individually.
These options can also be implemented within current budgets, which is why they are quicker to deliver, they’re relatively simple to design and construct and shouldn’t need any legal processes or acquisition of land. These options in this package include:
Option A1 involves a review of signing and pedestrian crossing points at Tore Roundabout to make both the roundabout and crossing points clearer for drivers. This may increase or even reduce the number of signs as part of a signing strategy and would look to better emphasize the presence of existing crossing points.
Option A2 suggests replacing the signs around the B9161 Munlochy junction with new ones that will direct traffic heading towards Cromarty to take the A832 from Tore roundabout, rather than turn right onto the B9161, the aim is to reduce potential conflicts.
This won’t physically prevent drivers from turning right and some will continue to do so, particularly if it’s a route they use regularly or are following their sat-nav.
A3 will look at installing new lane markings on the Tore roundabout with destinations marked on the lanes on approach, a bit like the Longman Roundabout, which is the photo on the slide. This is expected to improve driver perception of the roundabout on the approach, meaning a reduction in potential pedestrian and vehicle conflicts.
The last option in this package is A4, which considers better signs for cyclists to encourage use of the national cycle route that runs parallel to the A9, rather than cycling on the carriageway. Again, this is an option that would work best together with other options.
That’s the last of the first lot of short term options.
Slide 13. Short Term Package B
Now we will look at the next bundle of short term options, Options B1 to B3. These include three options which can be delivered between 6 months and 4 years. They are a bit more complex in technical terms or require prioritisation with other projects within Transport Scotland’s road safety budget.
B1 would look at replacing the current road studs around the junction with more prominent illuminated versions.
Here’s an example from a project on a dual carriageway on the A1. Studs similar to these were installed at the B9163 junction at Conon Bridge last year to better define the area. These studs contain a small light that illuminates during the hours of darkness to highlight the approaches to the junction, rather than rely on reflecting light from headlights like existing road studs.
Option B2 looks at installing street lighting on the approaches to the Munlochy junction. This will light up the junction during darkness to help drivers see the junction layout more clearly. The street lighting columns would also help to emphasise the presence of the junction during daytime. Depending on the extents, it may include the section from North Kessock to Munlochy junction to avoid a short section of darkness.
Finally Option B3 considers all the five junctions between North Kessock and Tore roundabout with the provision of electronic vehicle activated signs.
These vehicle activated signs detect a vehicle approaching the A9 from the side road and illuminate to warn drivers on the A9 that a vehicle could emerge, a bit like this example from another project. This would only be a warning. Remember that drivers joining the A9 must still give way to traffic already on the road.
Slide 19. Short Term Package C
Moving on to the third bundle of short-term options in package C, this has 9 options C1 to C9 that are relatively straightforward to construct but require a Legal Order to take effect.
Part of the process of making a legal order involves a public consultation and anyone adversely affected by the proposed order can object which can add a considerable delay to the process of bringing the Order into force. Sometimes these objections cannot be overcome and will need independent arbitration. Even then sometimes these can be upheld. So timescales can be uncertain and there is no guarantee that any particular measure can be brought into force.
Our first option here is C1 which is a potential speed limit reduction around the B9161 Munlochy junction – effectively extending the existing 50mph speed limit at North Kessock to the north side of Munlochy junction.
Assuming compliance with the lower speed limit, drivers will have additional time to judge their turn from the A9 onto the B9161 and vice versa. However, the road was designed for 70mph and it will look and feel like it should be a 70mph limit so experience tells us that drivers may not necessarily drive at the speed limit.
Keeping with speed limit reductions, we are also looking at a reduction on the approaches to the Tore Roundabout – either the immediate approaches or for one mile on the approach, possibly taking in the Tore Primary School junction.
Assuming drivers comply, lower speeds on the approach to the roundabout will give pedestrians more time to judge when it is safe to cross the A9.
C3, again, another speed limit option, this would potentially implement a lower speed limit of 50mph north from the existing 50mph speed limit at North Kessock junction all the way to the Tore roundabout, approximately 6.5km ( or 4 miles).
As with the last two options, drivers turning at junctions will have more time for turning manoeuvres, assuming other drivers comply with lower speed limit.
Options C4 and C5 consider the installation of safety cameras because this was raised by several stakeholders. We have included two options - a fixed safety camera near the B9161 junction on the southbound A9 or an average speed enforcement system between North Kessock and Tore.
Safety cameras are deployed through the Scottish Safety Camera Programme, primarily where they have the greatest potential to reduce injury collisions and where there is evidence of both collisions and speeding. This is reviewed every year in accordance with guidance. We’d welcome your views on these options, although the decision to install camera enforcement remains subject to a separate and independent assessment.
The remaining four options C6 to C9 look at prohibiting certain turns at junctions to reduce the potential for conflict. Whilst these could be effective, traffic that makes these turns at the moment would have to find another route so while we could remove these turning manoeuvres, traffic could then increase at the Tore Roundabout or on some side roads, for example.
Journey times may also be longer.
Option C6 prohibits right turns from side roads at Artafallie, Allangrange, Arpafeelie and Glackmore onto the A9 to prevent potential conflicts, particularly with longer HGVs and agricultural vehicles. The diversion route would involve a left turn manoeuvre onto the A9 and turn at either Tore roundabout or North Kessock junction before continuing with the journey. This would be combined with a prohibition of U-turns to prevent mis-use of junctions nearby, which is another separate option, Option C7. U-turns are manoeuvres that the junctions were not designed to accommodate and can create conflicts. Drivers wishing to turn will need to use Tore roundabout or the North Kessock junction.
Our traffic surveys show this will affect a very low number of vehicles, particularly for Option C7.
Options C8 and C9 are specific to the Munlochy junction. C8 looks at prohibiting right turns from the B9161 at Munlochy Junction onto the A9 northbound, but traffic can still turn right from the A9 onto the B9161. Our surveys recorded 36 vehicles a day making this manoeuvre, and the alternative route would be to head south on the A9 to North Kessock, turn, and then back northwards along the A9, a diversion of around 4.2km (2.6 miles).
However, drivers may use other junctions along this section of the A9 as an alternative, resulting in increases in traffic on other local roads.
Finally Option C9 looks at prohibiting vehicles turning right from the A9 to the B9161 and from the B9161 to the A9. The right turn lane would be removed and central reservation could be closed as it would no longer be required
This would reduce the potential for conflict and eliminate the queuing in the right turn lane on the A9. Over 2100 vehicles currently turning right from the A9 per day and these would continue north to Tore and then along the A832 which would mean a diversion of 4km (2.5 miles) to the B9161/A835 junction, in addition to the impacts on those turning right from the B9161 to the A9 which I described in C8, the previous option.
Slide 26. Medium Term: Package D
So that completes all of the short-term options ( A1 to A4 / B1 to B3 and C1 to C9). We’ll now move on to the medium-term projects, which includes five options which could be delivered within a period of between 3 to 7 years. These take longer than some of the previous options described as sometimes the acquisition of additional land is needed or the design and construction process is more complex. In the consultation, this is Package D1 to D5.
The first Option, D1, (no slide) would review current footway provision around the Tore roundabout to encourage walking, cycling and wheeling. As part of this, the locations of bus stops in the area would be reviewed to consider if relocation would better serve bus passengers and operators, as well as make access to/from these bus stops more attractive.
Bus operators report that it is difficult at times for buses to enter and leave the bus lay-bys. This option may require land to be purchased.
The aim would be to improve pedestrian safety by making sure visibility is as good as it can be and to make walking, cycling or wheeling as accessible as possible. Better located bus stops would make it easier and safer to use public transport. As part of this option, crossing points would remain uncontrolled – in other words, those using the crossing would need to wait for a gap in the traffic.
This option could complement with other Options at Tore Roundabout in this package, which I’ll come to shortly.
Option D2 considers installing a pedestrian crossing on the A9 either to the north or to the south side of Tore roundabout, depending on where demand for a crossing is greatest.
This option will make a speed limit reduction essential. Traffic entering and leaving the roundabout would not be controlled by signals, so good visibility would be essential to reduce any risk of drivers going through a red light.
Although this is a controlled crossing, to make it safe, it may be slightly off the most direct walking ‘line’. It could also mean additional queuing for traffic at the roundabout.
Option D3 would consider a pedestrian bridge over or an underpass below the A9 at Tore Roundabout. This could either be to the north or to the south of Tore roundabout depending upon demand. Further surveys and consultation would be needed and the choice of bridge or underpass would take account of the views of those in the local community as well as engineering feasibility.
It is likely that land will have to be purchased although it would eliminate potential conflict between vehicular traffic and other users, with no impacts on traffic queuing.
The next option, D4, looks at lengthening the southbound merge slip at the B9161 Munlochy Junction to assist vehicles joining the southbound carriageway by giving more time to merge. Due to the road being on a left hand bend, careful design will be needed to optimize visibility and review the feasibility of minimum requirements in road design standards.
Land may need to be purchased and there may be service diversions
The final medium term option is D5 which would look at installing traffic signals at Tore Roundabout, including controlled pedestrian crossings. This will enhance facilities for walking, cycling and wheeling and make those crossings safer although it may cause delays at the Tore roundabout albeit the signals would be optimized.
That concludes all of the medium term options D1 to D5
Slide 31. Long Term Package E
The last package of options is Package E, with options E1 to E6. This contains six longer term options which could be delivered within a period of between 5 to 10 years. The timing would be dependent on the planning, design, procurement and construction involved. Some of these options would need a formal legal process, including public consultation. Also, some of these options could be combined, whilst others are different options for the same location.
The first option, E1, would look at widening the central reserve at the B9161 Munlochy, Artafallie, Allangrange, Arpafeelie and Glackmore junctions. This would allow for longer vehicles waiting to join the A9. The likelihood of vehicles overhanging the fast lane is then reduced, reducing conflicts.
Land would need to be purchased and this may mean utility diversions.
E2 would consider converting the B9161 Munlochy and Artafallie junctions into one single roundabout, which would remove the need to turn right into side roads off the A9. Careful design would be needed to ensure that side road traffic was able to join effectively at peak times. The construction of a roundabout will require land and possibly utility diversions, along with the legal orders required to construct a new road.
Option E3 would create a single improved junction at Munlochy through potentially closing Arpafeelie and Glackmore junctions. Traffic currently using these junctions would be diverted to the Tore Roundabout on a new route linking existing local roads together to join the A9. The Artafallie and Allangrange junctions would be closed and traffic diverted to the B9161 Munlochy junction using existing local roads.
This could be combined with either the last option I described for E2, a roundabout at Munlochy junction, or another type of new junction here, which I’ll explain shortly in option E5.
This will reduce potential conflicts for vehicles on the A9, or joining the A9, but could result in more traffic using side roads.
The next option, Option E4, looks at extending the right turn lane for traffic turning from the A9 to the B9161. This allows more vehicles to wait before they can turn right and reduces the likelihood of traffic queuing in the fast lane.
Although this sounds straightforward, the A9 northbound carriageway might need to be realigned to allow for widening of the central reserve for the right turn lane. It may also require the purchase of land and utility diversions. However, in the event of an unusually high number of left turning vehicles, the queue could still reach the A9 fast lane.
The second last option to be considered is E5 a grade separated junction at the Munlochy Junction combining the B9161 Munlochy and Artafallie junctions. This would provide slip roads to the side roads, similar to that provided for at the North Kessock Junction.
This removes the need to turn right to either road and therefore eliminates potential conflict and risk. The existing B9161 and Artafallie junction would then be closed.
This option requires additional land and possibly service diversions, along with the legal orders to construct a new road.
The final option is E6, - a new road connection between the B9161 Munlochy and North Kessock junctions. This would allow Munlochy junction to be rationalised, with the gap in the central reservation closed to make it left-in-left out only, or possibly close the junction with the A9 altogether. Full closure will eliminate conflicts between A9 traffic and those entering or emerging from the B9161. Traffic would be diverted to the proposed link road which maybe parallel to the A9. This option will require land and possible service diversions, along with the legal orders required to construct a new road.
This brings us to the end of the presentation. As promised, here is a link to the main consultation document. If you have any problems with that, you can contact WSP directly on the tel no displayed or just send an email to the address on the slide.
Hopefully you found this informative and we look forward to hearing from with your feedback on the options presented as soon as you are able.
Don’t forget that that a recording of this presentation will be available to view again at any time for the remainder of the consultation. We would be grateful to hear your views and thoughts through the online consultation which is available until 27 August. You can start your response and come back to it at any time – just don’t forget to make sure it’s submitted by 27 August.
If you or someone you know prefers to provide their views on a hard copy form then please contact WSP using the e-mail or phone numbers displayed on the screen and we’ll make arrangements for one to be sent to you.
Many thanks for listening.