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Caithness News Bulletins November 2005

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See The Earlier Phase Now Completed    
Transport Minister Tavish Scott today gave the go ahead for the final phase of the A9 upgrade between Helmsdale and Ord of Caithness.

The work, which is estimated to cost 4.5million will start next Summer and last 12 months.  The scheme will realign and widen over two kilometres of single carriageway and construct a climbing lane at the northern end of the road, providing a dedicated overtaking opportunity.

The scheme also includes a new roundabout, a new road junction, street lighting, relocation of snow gates and cycle/pedestrian links. Mr Scott said: "This devolved government is committed to upgrading our trunk road network. This important stretch of the A9 links Caithness with the rest of Scotland and provides access to the ferry ports serving Orkney.

"This work will remove the tortuous bends and steep gradients on the road which have been the scene of a number of accidents and will be of real benefit to the local economy, business and tourism in the area. 

"It will help lessen journey times on this length of road for locals and visitors alike and improve road safety."

The proposed scheme allows for the realignment and widening of 2.1 km of 6m wide single carriageway with 1m hard strips and 1.65m verges. The scheme also comprises a 280m length of 10m wide carriageway at the northern end to tie into the climbing lane under construction in the Phase 1 works.

The majority of the route is offline and includes the provision of a new roundabout, a new private access, a new road junction with the U299 Navidale Cemetery Road, street lighting, relocation of snow gates and the provision of cycle/pedestrian links.

Structures to be provided include three culverts, an agricultural underpass and a retaining wall approximately 170m long and up to 8.8m high between the existing A9 and the proposed scheme.

The Scottish Executive intend to issue tender documents in February 2006. Construction of the road upgrade will begin next Summer
and the work is expected to last 12 months. The work will cost about 4.5 million.

The Phase 1 scheme is some 2kms long and comprises generally of on-line widening with two short lengths of off-line construction. It is split into two sections by an earlier 800,000 improvement at Ord Burn which was carried out in 1999.

The standard carriageway width is 6 metres with 1.0 metre wide edge strips but south of the Ord Burn the carriageway has been widened out to 10 metres to provide a 600 metre long climbing lane to provide an overtaking opportunity for northbound traffic.

Morrison Construction Services, locally based at Inverness, won the tender and work on the 6 million  project commenced work in August 2004 and the civil engineering element is now substantially complete. The majority of the landscaping works have still to be carried out.

The scheme has been identified as a priority transport project and 25 per cent of the costs will be met from European Structural Funds for the Phase 1 works and one million pounds has been recommended for the Phase 2 works.