A BUSINESS case for upgrading the road towards Cullivoe is set to be prepared after councillors gave their backing to making the work a top priority.
The decision was made at a meeting of the full Shetland Islands Council on Wednesday.
The estimated total capital cost of the work is currently around £4.3 million.
Council staff said the B9092 between Gutcher and the Cullivoe pier is “no longer considered fit for purpose due to the recent significant increase in the number of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) using the road”.
Roads staff have concluded that the only viable long-term solution is to build a new road on a new alignment, with enough width to suit the increasing use by HGVs.
A report presented to members stated that the section of the B9082 is currently used by around seven articulated trailers daily for the haulage of salmon and whitefish landings.
The road acts as a vital pathway for the aquaculture and fishing industries in the North Isles.
Roads manager Dave Coupe told a council meeting last week that there is “effectively a moratorium on future development” in the area due to the effect it could have on the road.
This includes plans from the North Yell Development Council for an expanded business park and new marina in Cullivoe.
Shetland Central member Davie Sandison, who is involved with the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, questioned whether the SIC had taken the road to the Scottish Government as a “national priority”.
Infrastructure director John Smith confirmed that government officials are aware that the road is a vital economic link.
The roads issue had been discussed by councillors at other meetings in the last week and there was a general desire from members not to see other priority road upgrades elsewhere in Shetland fall by the wayside.
South mainland councillors expressed their repeated concern over the A970 at Levenwick, which features a blind summit, while Westside member Catherine Hughson said she felt the council had “let down” some communities by having possible upgrades on the books for years without any action.
Shetland Central member Ian Scott, not for the first time, used roads as a springboard to call on the local authority to spend more from its reserves.
He said “we can pleeps all we want about our own back yard” but if the council has a savings target of over £15 million, major road improvements will be difficult to come by.
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