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Council / New Cullivoe road could ‘future proof’ connection to fixed link to Unst

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

PROPOSALS to upgrade the road between Gutcher and Cullivoe could include provision for connecting to a possible fixed link between Yell and Unst, councillors will be told next week.

The idea is supported by North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson, who said “in my opinion we must include in the Cullivoe road project provisions for a future fixed link to Unst”.

A report due to be presented to councillors next week highlights that long-awaited proposed upgrade to the B9082 road could “future proof” a connection to a possible future bridge or tunnel to Unst.

The section of road in Yell is near to the closest point between the two islands.

How exactly the road will be upgraded has not been decided but a shortlist of six options feature in a strategic outline case which will go in front of councillors.

A section of the road which runs between Gutcher and Cullivoe. © Google 2019

One option includes a “new 6.3 metre wide two-lane road to the south of a future junction with a road that would serve a fixed link to Unst”, as well as a stretch of single track road.

This would mean the road would not have to be upgraded if a fixed link ever did go ahead in the area, as it is thought that a double-track road would be needed at a junction off to a fixed link.

A ‘maximum’ option of a two-lane road along the existing alignment, which would also “future proof” the area for a possible fixed link, is also mooted.

The upgrade of the B9082 was made a priority road project late last year as it is “no longer considered fit for purpose” due to the number of HGV vehicles using the road.

It is a vital link road for the fishing and aquaculture industries which use the Cullivoe pier.

Councillors were previously told that it could only be 2027 before an upgraded road is finished.

The shortest crossing of Bluemull Sound between Yell and Unst lies between Garths Ness in Cullivoe and Hoga Ness in Belmont.

The B9082 is the nearest road to the former, passing within 380 metres of the ness.

North Isles member Thomson, who hails from Unst, said the opportunity should be taken to include a potential fixed link in the road plans.

“It is important and indeed essential to both the residents and industries in Cullivoe, and to the economic viability of Shetland that we see the correct progress being made to progress the strategic outline case for the Cullivoe road,” he said.

“However we must look also at the wider aspect of transport in Shetland.

“Fixed links are something I have passionately advocated for and with a substantial infrastructure project such as this, in my opinion it we must include in this project provisions for a future fixed link to Unst.”

There is support within the council for the principle of fixed links but their cost means it would require government funding.