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Council / Lower speed limits at south exit of Lerwick and Tresta could be made permanent

A new 50mph limit between Stebbigrind and Cova could also be introduced

COUNCIL officers are recommending that reduced speed limits trialled at the south exit of Lerwick and in Tresta should be made permanent.

There is also a proposal to introduce a new 50mph limit between Stebbigrind and Cova in the Whiteness and Weisdale area.

Decisions on the proposals will be made by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday.

A trial of reduced speed limits between Sound Brae in Lerwick and the Black Gaet junction – as well as the side road to Gulberwick – was introduced in 2021.

The limits ranged from 30mph to 50mph, and the aim was to see if there was an impact on the number of people walking and cycling.

The same trial was implemented on the A971 through Tresta, with the limit there dropping from 60mph to 50mph.

Local Tresta residents also felt the road was unsafe and had presented a petition to the council encouraging the limit to be reduced.

Reports on both trials, due to be presented to the council’s environment and transport committee, suggested the numbers of people engaging in active travel in the two areas would not warrant the limits being made permanent for that reason alone.

In the case of Tresta, the conclusion was that the reduced limit has been “entirely ineffective” in promoting active travel.

Sound Brae is one of the areas where the speed limit has been reduced, in this case to 30mph. This photo was taken when it was 40mph. Photo: Shetland News

However, both trials were deemed to be largely effective in reducing drivers’ speeds and therefore increasing safety – resulting in council officers suggesting they are made permanent.

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There are also thought to be safety benefits at the Black Gaet junction, which has historically experienced a number of accidents.

However, there is an admission that there may be “issues with the levels of enforcement” required for a permanent 30mph limit at Sound Brae.

Some safety benefits could also come from the Tresta road being made 50mph permanently.

Meanwhile councillors will be recommended to approve a new 50mph limit on the A971 between Whiteness and Weisdale.

It would start just before the South Whiteness junction, if driving towards the west, and end at Cova as Weisdale begins.

The stretch of road, which is currently 60mph, has drawn a number of concerns over the years, due to its width, the alignment, damaged verges and the unsuitability for walkers.

There are also several junctions with poor visibility, such as at Haggersta.

Road safety checks undertaken between Haggersta and Cova in July last year identified a number of further issues including the lack of roadside safety barriers.

Data recorded in June at five locations on the stretch of road showed a mean speed of 46.5 mph. The daily average traffic volume was 2,240 vehicles.

As such, the report to councillors says the current 60mph limit “does not reflect the road’s layout and characteristics, nor the speed which the majority of drivers consider to be appropriate”.

Since 1999 there have been three ‘slight’ injury accidents on the length of road which have been reported to police.

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