Scottish Trunk Road Infrastructure Project Evaluation - Evaluation Report for Trunk Road Projects Opened between April 09 and March 10

4 Key Findings

4.1 Introduction

This chapter provides a summary of the key findings from the evaluations undertaken for the three trunk road infrastructure projects that opened between April 09 and March 10, highlighting any trends and stand-out issues.

4.2 Network Traffic

  • The evaluations undertaken indicate that the projects are generally operating as expected.
  • Whilst an increase in traffic flows was experienced on the A9(T) at Bankfoot, traffic flows have generally been stabilising and/or declining over recent years due to the economic downturn.
  • Whilst there appears to be a general bias towards the over prediction of traffic flows for carriageway improvement projects that opened between April 09 and March 10 (due to the economic downturn), predicted flows are (with one exception) within accepted limits, which suggests that the forecasting techniques used for appraising these types of projects are generally appropriate. The reason for the significant under prediction of traffic flows on the A9(T) at Bankfoot should be explored further.
  • The standards of carriageway constructed are generally appropriate for the post opening traffic flows on the projects. A higher standard of carriageway has been constructed on the A7(T) at Auchenrivock in order to satisfy the project's objectives.

4.3 Environment

  • A review of the proposed mitigation measures contained in the environmental reports for each of the projects opened between April 09 and March 10 confirmed that the majority of measures committed within the Environmental Statement were in place and were providing appropriate levels of mitigation.
  • Whilst some mitigation measures were not evident on site, these may be due to variations and/or separate arrangements with the relevant landowners. Transport Scotland is looking at ways to improve the environmental review process to provide a better record of the mitigation measures that have been implemented, including details of any agreed variations.
  • Areas that require maintenance were identified as part of the environmental mitigation measures review undertaken for A9(T) Bankfoot project.

4.4 Safety

  • Initial indications from the available personal injury accident data are that the projects opened between April 09 and March 10 are contributing towards an overall improvement in road safety.
  • Stage 4 RSA reports for projects that opened between April 09 and March 10 have been available and provide evidence supporting this apparent improvement in road safety.
  • The RSA report for the A830(T) Arisaig to Loch Nan Uamh project notes that some issues concerning pedestrians and cyclists are still to be resolved.
  • The RSA report for the A9(T) Bankfoot project notes a skid risk from vehicles overrunning filter drain material and scattering it on the carriageway surface.

4.5 Economy

  • Whilst two of the three projects that opened between April 09 and March 10 saw an under-prediction of benefits, no emerging trend has been identified.
  • The over-prediction of economic benefits, as a result of over-estimating traffic flows, supports the need for sensitivity testing to understand the range of possible economic outcomes.

4.6 Integration

  • One project, the A830(T) Arisaig to Loch Nan Uamh, was evaluated against the Integration criteria and the project provides transport integration benefits and supports Local and Central Government policy.

4.7 Accessibility & Social Inclusion

  • A review of the proposed measures for cyclists and pedestrians indicates that the measures are generally being delivered.
  • Some outstanding issues for active travel users of the A830(T) Arisaig to Loch Nan Uamh and A7(T) Auchenrivock projects are still to be addressed.
  • Anecdotal evidence indicates that the A830(T) Arisaig to Loch Nan Uamh project has improved the reliability of local public transport services connecting with local ferry services.

4.8 Cost to Government

  • There appears to be a slight bias towards the under-prediction of project costs for projects that opened between April 09 and March 10, with the predicted cost less than the out-turn cost for two of the three projects.

4.9 Value for Money

  • Based on the evaluation of economic benefits and project costs, the value for money associated with two projects that opened between April 09 and March 10 are unlikely to be as great as predicted, although it is judged that they will continue to provide a benefit to road users.

4.10 Achievement of Objectives

  • The majority of objectives for projects that opened between April 09 and March 10 have not been expressed with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed) principles in mind having been set prior to the publication of the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG).
  • Two objectives may not be achieved and these relate to Value for Money. It is not always possible to confirm whether projects are likely to deliver value for money at an early stage after opening for a number of reasons, which may include uncertainty regarding future traffic flow trends, the magnitude of benefits attributable to after opening traffic conditions, etc.
  • Overall, the projects that opened between April 09 and March 10 are generally progressing towards achieving their objectives.