Page last updated at 23:12 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:12 UK

Call to end congestion on bridge

Kessock Bridge
The Kessock Bridge takes the A9 from Inverness across to the Black Isle

A park-and-ride scheme and improved bus and rail services have been suggested by MSPs as ways of reducing congestion on a Highlands road bridge.

Labour's Peter Peacock, Rhoda Grant and David Stewart have launched a campaign calling for measures to be put in place to cut delays on the Kessock Bridge.

The crossing at Inverness is key to taking road traffic along the A9.

Transport Scotland said it was already working on a solution to the congestion.

The MSPs have set up a campaign website called End the Queues.

They hope to seek meetings with Highland Council, Transport Scotland and transport body Hitrans.

There will not be a quick fix to the problem
David Stewart

Waiting times of 15 to 20 minutes to cross the bridge were not uncommon, the MSPs said.

The stretch of water between Inverness and the Black Isle was previously crossed by a ferry.

Mr Peacock said: "The Kessock Bridge is a key transport route which links the north to Inverness and beyond.

"Over the last 20 years, travelling to and from East Ross, the Black Isle and further north has been revolutionised by its existence.

"We want to find a long term solution to the growing problem and get the issue up the political agenda and we need people to make their voices heard if the share our view."

Ms Grant said improved public transport links and a park and ride would reduce the numbers of cars having to use the bridge.

Mr Stewart said: "There will not be a quick fix to the problem.

"We know from responses we received to a small survey in the area just how fed up people are with the problem and we will be giving people the chance to show their support over the coming weeks."

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: "Transport Scotland commissioned its operating company Scotland Transerv to carry out a traffic capacity study at the Longman Roundabout, which is near the southern end of Kessock Bridge, and this is now complete.

"This study has identified a preferred solution to traffic congestion in this area and we have asked Scotland Transerv to work up a preliminary design and costing."

Last year, it was claimed communities bypassed following the building of three bridges - including the Kessock crossing - continue to suffer more than 20 years after the structures opened.

Reay Clarke, who suggested bridging the Moray, Cromarty and Dornoch firths in the 1960s, said more had to be done to help towns and villages to recover.

The farmer and Highlands MSP Jamie Stone said central Sutherland was the area hardest hit.

The pair were interviewed for BBC Radio Scotland's No Going Back series.

Mr Clarke, of Edderton, said the eventual decision to build the three crossings has been proved right, but some of the communities that were bypassed by the bridges have never been properly compensated for the loss of the through traffic on the A9 road.

New timetable

Meanwhile, swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal where it runs through Inverness have also been the source of congestion.

In April, operators of bridges at Tomnahurich and Muirtown started using a new timetable for when they open to road traffic, or to boats, to ease the problem.

They have special displays to alert them to approaching buses.

The electronic real-time information should allow them to time openings to avoid delays to public transport.

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