Single track roads let Shetland down

Single track roads don't benefit from modern construction.

SHETLAND’s percentage of roads in need of maintenance is one of the highest in Scotland, according to a new report.

On Thursday Audit Scotland issued a follow-up report to its Maintaining Scotland’s Roads research and called for “urgent action” to address Scotland’s roads.

But SIC roads manager Dave Coupe said much of Shetland’s roads were single-track access roads and as such were regarded as of poorer quality, bringing down the council’s overall condition figures.

While visitors regularly praise the quality of Shetland’s main roads, the council actually finds itself near the bottom of a table ranking road conditions.

Neighbouring Orkney topped the list with about 20 per cent more ‘acceptable’ roads than Shetland.

Roads boss Coupe said that Shetland’s 2014/15 figure for A roads that should be considered for maintenance stands at 21.2 per cent, making the isles eighth best in Scotland for that type of road.

“A significant percentage of Shetland’s road network, 44 per cent, is unclassified and tends to be in poorer condition,” he said.

“These roads are the single track local access roads and are mostly old, founded on poorer ground conditions and do not benefit from modern construction.

“Due to the high percentage of our network being made up of these they bring our position ranking down although they are generally free from potholes and major surface defects and deemed fit for purpose.”

The SICs environment and transport committee heard in April that the amount of money needed to keep the isles’ roads in a ‘steady state’ in 2015/16 was £5.6 million, but the budget was only £1.75 million.

The amount the council currently spends on maintaining its roads per kilometre is the fifth lowest in Scotland.