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Council / Proposals for Levenwick road upgrade to get first airing in front of councillors

Duncan said speed cameras at accident hotspots such as Levenwick would be cheaper than rebuilding the narrow road - Photo: Ronnie Robertson
The issue of the A970 at Levenwick was raised again in early 2015 after a truck rolled down the embankment. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

IMPROVEMENTS to make the main A970 road at Levenwick safer, which could cost more than £3.3 million, are in the pipeline.

However, there are a number of hoops the plan must jump through before the project can become a reality.

An initial strategic outline case on the proposal will go in front of councillors this month.

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The piece of road in question is the A970 between the north and south junctions to the Levenwick loop, which Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan has previously described as a “death trap”.

Safety concerns have been raised for a number of years following accidents there. The accident rate is greater than both national and local averages.

With a width of around 5.4 metres, compared to the current design standard of 6.8 metres, it is among the narrowest sections of two-lane road in Shetland.

The verge is also narrow, while there are three blind summits.

Many metres of the road’s edge are also cracked due to vehicle overrun, and will soon need repaired.

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The report to councillors reiterates that the road is the main link to the South Mainland, which hosts important services like Sumburgh Airport, the coastguard helicopter, a fire station, a school and the Grutness ferry terminal.

A shortlist of options for making the road safer have been put together, but the preferred way forward is to build a new 6.8 metre-wide two lane road, with safety barriers as required between the north and south Levenwick junctions.

This option would “address all the safety concerns, would ensure the long-term reliability of the road and would ‘future proof’ the road with no need for further improvements at a later date”.

The report added that with “careful planning and the regular updating of road users”, the continued use of the A970 during construction “without unreasonable delays” should be possible.

While the capital cost of the work would be around £3.3 million, this would be funded by borrowing and would result in additional annual borrowing costs of £154,000 per year over the next 60 years.

If councillors approve the initial strategic outline case then further business cases would be have to be prepared before anything is signed off.

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