Highlands & Islands

Roundabouts and rabbits: Inverness road plans

Plans have gone on public display showing options for tackling congestion in Inverness.

Transport Scotland has proposed improvements designed to better link up the A9 and A96 - two trunk roads serving the city.

Highland Council plans to make changes to roads at Inshes and Raigmore.

Transport Scotland and Highland Council have set out four options for improvements to roundabouts and junctions in the Inshes and Raigmore areas of the city. The changes to existing road layouts and planned new stretches of road also aim to better link up the A9 and A96. Shown above is some of the plans for what is called Option A. Drawings of all four options - A, B, C and D - will be displayed at Inshes Church Hall on Friday and then at Old High Church Hall on 3 June.

The four options include an effort to ease travel at what has been described by some driving instructors as the "confusing, feared and dreaded" Inshes Roundabout. This octopus-like, six-exit, multiple lane feature has been said to bring out learner drivers in a cold sweat, and is reckoned to be one of the most common things they search for on the internet in preparation for lessons and tests. Instructors, however, do add that it is not as bad as it seems. Highland Council wants to make the roundabout easier to negotiate and also reduce congestion at the site.

Despite being one of the busiest road features in Inverness, Inshes Roundabout has a population of wild rabbits. Highland Council said the issue of rabbits had not been fully considered at this stage, but a strategy would be developed that would be as sensitive as possible. A spokeswoman said: "This mitigation may include rabbit-proof fencing being erected that has one way flap gates that allows the rabbits to leave but not return, this over time would clear the site of the rabbit population. But the impact of the rabbits displacement and also on the residual population would also need to be considered. We shall be seeking professional advice on how to take this forward."

Transport Scotland has also set out a proposal for the A9 at Inverness's Longman where the trunk road connects with the Kessock Bridge. The large roundabout at the Longman also has exits to the busy Longman Road and to Inverness Caledonian Thistle's stadium. The proposal includes building a flyover to take the A9 over the top of the Longman Roundabout to link up with the bridge.

Political opinion is divided on the roads projects.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said the proposals would help to separate local car trips from those on longer journeys. He added: "The study has also looked at how all modes of transport including walking, cycling and public transport can be integrated with each of the proposals." Inverness councillor Ian Brown said he hoped people would "engage positively" in the consultation on the plans. However, the Highlands and Islands Green Party has said money would be better spent on improving rail and cycle links to, from and around the city.

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