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Transport / Black Gaet slip road set to be removed in coming months

Traffic volumes at the junction have risen on average two percent every year

The south entrance to the junction. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

THE SLIP road at the Black Gaet junction for traffic coming from the south and heading west is to be removed in the coming months due to concerns over its length.

A meeting of Shetland’s community safety and resilience board on Tuesday heard that the issue came to light as analysis continues into the junction, which has been described by some as an accident “blackspot”.

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Road asset and network management Neil Hutcheson said if a HGV was waiting in the slip road, two cars could not sit behind it without one sticking out into the busy A970.

He said after the meeting that traffic volumes have gone up roughly two per cent year on year for a while, and described this as a key factor behind the decision.

“For a number of years it has been increasing, so obviously the more traffic, the more likelihood you’re going to have of a longer queue,” Hutcheson said.

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The change, which includes the removal of the second island, will result in a more usual ‘T’ junction.

Hutcheson said the work could get underway later this summer, possibly into September depending on how other works progress.

However, he said the main causes of accidents tend to involve vehicles turning right into the Black Gaet or traffic heading south out of the junction.

But Hutcheson said the slip road may create some confusion, so removing it could help matters.

Meanwhile a freedom of information request to the police highlights that there have been a steady number of collisions in the vicinity of the junction reported to officers over the last ten years.

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The figures show that there were four collisions and one “road traffic matter” reported to the police in 2021, and two collisions and one road traffic matter between January and the end of April this year.

However, there may be other collisions where personal details were exchanged between drivers and thus there was no legal requirement to report to the police.

Area commander chief inspector Stuart Clemenson said in May that the area was a concern, but he stopped short of calling it an accident “blackspot”.

Black Gaet junction a ‘concern’ but not an ‘accident blackspot’, police chief says

He added that specialists from the police had been set to cast a “fresh pair of eyes” over the junction from a safety perspective.

There have also been some calls in the community for the road service to think about a roundabout, but Hutcheson said this was not actively under consideration.

Analysis of the junction is due to be presented to councillors in September.

“That will give a bit more detail I’d imagine about probably why [a roundabout] is not going to happen, but that’s not for now, that’s for later,” Hutcheson said.

The speed limit at the junction reduced to 50mph last year as part of wider trials to look at levels of active travel.

However it is hard to gauge if the temporary speed limit is having any effect on road safety.

The community safety and resilience board also heard that a meeting will be held this weekend with landowners regarding the proposed Levenwick road upgrade.

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