Highlands & Islands

Five options mooted for Inverness's West Link road

River Ness
Image caption The new West Link would have to cross the River Ness and Caledonian Canal

Ninety alternative ideas for a road to better link the east and west sides of Inverness have been cut down to five options.

The West Link aims to take traffic from the city's Southern Distributor Road to the A82 trunk road, avoiding the city centre.

All the options would involve having to bridge the River Ness and also the Caledonian Canal.

Tunnelling under the river and canal have been ruled out.

The public has been asked to comment on the various suggestions.

A series of public meetings and exhibitions will be held in the areas most likely to be affected and these have been publicised on Highland Council's website.

The local authority has held talks with the Scottish government on the need for the West Link.

Council Leader Michael Foxley said: "This is a project that is being taken forward by the council but it is important that we work hand in hand with the Scottish government on our proposals as they are part of the bigger picture in terms of easing traffic congestion in and around Inverness."

John Laing, chairman of the transport, environmental and community services committee, said the five options had followed an "exhaustive sifting process".

He added: "All are deemed to be cost effective and deliverable. We are still some way away from making decisions.

"We hope for a good turnout at the public exhibitions and lots of comments to guide us in selecting a preferred option for taking this important project forward."

Inverness provost Jimmy Gray said the council had been assured that all the projects mooted were feasible.

The options are:

One: Crosses the River Ness at open ground between the Pringles Woollen Mill and a yard on Dores Road to a roundabout at the western end of fields at the canal, then follows the canal embankment to reach Bught Road next to the Queens Park athletics track.

It then crosses the canal with a low-level bridge which will operate in tandem with the existing A82 Tomnahurich canal bridge, ensuring that one of these bridges will remain open to traffic at all times.

Image caption The options include crossing the river near a yard on Dores Road

Two: Crosses the River Ness between the woollen mill and yard to the roundabout at the western end of fields at the canal, then follows the southern edge of the fields to a weir at Whin Park.

From there, the road would go to a roundabout on the bend of Bught Road, traverse the rugby ground to a new low-level canal swing bridge, mid way between the Tomnahurich canal bridge and the edge of Torvean Quarry. The quarry is a Special Area of Scientific Interest.

The road crosses the golf course at Torvean to a new roundabout on the A82 at General Booth Road.

Three: Crosses the River Ness at its narrowest point between Rossie and Heraghty lodges on Dores Road to land on Whin Park and a new roundabout on Bught Road. It follows Bught Road to a new roundabout next to the Queens Park Athletics Track and crosses the canal with a new low-level canal bridge.

Four: Crosses the River Ness between the Rossie and Heraghty lodges to land on Whin Park and a new roundabout on the bend of Bught Road. It crosses the rugby ground to a new low-level canal swing bridge mid way between the Tomnahurich canal bridge and the edge of Torvean Quarry.

The West Link then crosses the Torvean golf course to a new roundabout on the A82 at General Booth Road.

Five: Crosses the River Ness between the Rossie and Heraghty lodges to land on Whin Park and a new roundabout on the bend of Bught Road and pass through the canal parks between the rugby ground and Whin Park and crosses the canal with a low-level bridge close to the edge of the Torvean Quarry.

This final option also traverses the golf course and connects with a new roundabout on the A82 at General Booth Road.

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