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Scores of 'conflicts' at notorious Black Isle Munlochy junction between A9 and B9161 highlight case for action; Report for Transport Scotland welcomed by Highland MSPs with options ranging from speed reduction to a roundabout


By Hector MacKenzie

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Kate Forbes: 'A review doesn’t fix the problem, but it is an important first step. It is the culmination of months of work, and I’d like to thank all the local users who made contributions.'
Kate Forbes: 'A review doesn’t fix the problem, but it is an important first step. It is the culmination of months of work, and I’d like to thank all the local users who made contributions.'

Independent consultants have said that more needs to be done to improve road safety at the notorious Munlochy junction in a landmark report for Transport Scotland.

The review – which also considers various improvements along the North Kessock to Tore roundabout stretch of the A9 – was implemented following pleas from Kate Forbes MSP on behalf of Black Isle and Ross-shire constituents.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has also lobbied the case for action.

In one part of the study for the 284-page report, it was said that in a period of two hours road experts identified over 100 conflicts at the Munlochy junction – where a road user would have to take action to prevent a collision.

Transport Scotland will now consider the next steps, including whether to proceed to a pre-appraisal stage.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “In January 2020, I committed to securing a review of the Munlochy junction after too many accidents and near misses. Although the review was delayed by Covid-19, I was pleased that it resumed last autumn.

“After extensive consultation, traffic studies and the in depth work of engineering consultants, this is a comprehensive report. Importantly, the review accepts that there are problems and it identifies them clearly. That is followed by a list of options for addressing the problem.

“Of course, a review doesn’t fix the problem, but it is an important first step. It is the culmination of months of work, and I’d like to thank all the local users who made contributions.”

Rhoda Grant said: “The report highlights issues at the Munlochy junction in terms of vehicles merging from the B9161 on the southbound A9, vehicles turning right from the A9 onto the B9161 and safety risks due to traffic queuing on the main carriageway while they wait to turn right on to the Munlochy road.

“It highlights four Transport Planning Objectives (TPOs) one of which is ‘To achieve an improvement in vehicular road safety and a reduction in conflicts at the Munlochy Junction (A9/B9161) in the short (3 years), medium (3-10 years) and longer term (beyond 10 years).’ Of the 40 options identified, 28 options fulfil this objective.

Mrs Grant continued “These options range in the short term from introducing speed reduction measures, improving visibility and driver awareness to influencing route choice and restricting turning movements at the junction.”

“Medium-term options include improving the slip road and extending the right turn lane on the A9. Converting Munlochy junction into a roundabout and creating a grade separated junction are amongst the options in the longer-term.

She concluded: “There is a lot of work still to be done to consult wider on the various available options but I welcome these options and will be pushing for short-term measures to be introduced quickly in the meantime while the longer-term options are explored further.

“I am pleased that TPOs have also been identified in terms of improving active travel access between North Kessock and Tore, with improvements to other junctions and road safety at Tore roundabout also being highlighted.

“As the gateway to the North and West of Scotland, we need to make vast improvements on this stretch of road and this report is the first stage in doing that.”


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