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New look proposed for notorious Highland capital traffic bottleneck to encourage active travel

By Val Sweeney

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Proposed changes for Inshes roundabout are set to be the subject of a public consultation.
Proposed changes for Inshes roundabout are set to be the subject of a public consultation.

Revised options to ease traffic congestion at a notorious Highland bottleneck are set to be subject to a public consultation starting next month.

Designs for a new-look junction at Inshes roundabout have been drawn up to encourage more walking and cycling.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the roundabout – used by thousands of visitors to the Highland capital – was known for its lengthy tailbacks, particularly for city workers during the morning and afternoon commute.

Although Highland Council officers previously drew up plans for a four-way signal-controlled junction, they have since gone back to the drawing board to reflect changes in Scottish Government policy to support healthy travel choices such as walking, wheeling, cycling and using the bus.

Two potential options have now been identified which will be presented to the Inverness city committee on Thursday when councillors will be asked to give the go-ahead for a public consultation.

Both options include creating a signalised four-way roundabout,

One includes a segregated cycling route through the main corridor while the second option includes a bus lane – but there is insufficient space to accommodate both.

They also propose reducing the number of vehicular access points from Drakies to Old Perth Road plus a new access into Inshes Retail Park.

Options for a five-arm roundabout and a signalised four-way junction were sifted out as they did not meet the project’s aim.

The project also connects to Transport Scotland’s East Link initiative for the A9/A96 and aims to support existing journeys as well as major city expansion east of the A9.

A report to be presented to the committee states: "The Inshes junction is one of the busiest in the city and forms a bottleneck for a lot of people travelling to other destinations, as well as Inshes itself, which is a major employment destination for an estimated 13,000 people.

"The council therefore needs to ensure this corridor is designed to enable people to choose the healthiest modes of transport."

It continues: "Highland Council has declared a climate and ecological emergency.

"We therefore need to deliver rapid action to mitigate and adapt to climate change."

An online consultation is proposed but if coronavirus restrictions allow, face-to-face meetings will be arranged.

Depending on the outcome and statutory consents, the project can only progress to the construction phase programmed to start 2023/24.

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