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Transport / Councillors back permanent reduced speed limits south of Lerwick and in Tresta

A ‘lang lippened’ reduced speed limit is also set for the road between Whiteness and Weisdale

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

REDUCED speed limits trialled at the south exit of Lerwick and in Tresta are in line to be made permanent – while the maximum speed allowed on road between Whiteness and Weisdale is also set to drop to 50mph.

The decisions were made at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee on Tuesday.

The local authority has a duty to carry out a consultation before the new limits are imposed.

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, although residents had already raised road safety concerns.

Reports on both trials suggested the number of people engaging in active travel in the two areas would not warrant the limits being made permanent for that reason alone.

But there was a recommendation to make them permanent from a road safety perspective.

Shetland West councillor Mark Robinson said the community still wanted to see the speed limit in Tresta drop further.

He was successful in proposing that further work is carried out to look at potential improvements – either in another speed reduction, or other road safety measures.

Data from both trials can be found in the respective items on the online meeting agenda.

Meanwhile councillors also approved a proposed 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.

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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.

There has also been concern about vehicles driving at excessive speed past the Whiteness primary school, despite the limit dropping to 20mph at certain times of the day.

Data recorded in June at five locations on the stretch of road showed a mean speed of 46.5 mph, highlighting vehicles tend to drive below 60mph.

Shetland Central councillor Catherine Hughson – who said lower speeds in the area are “lang lippened” – proposed that the speed limit be reduced further to 40mph around the school, saying parents are “very worried about the safety of their children”.

Robinson also raised the idea of a 40mph limit before the school through to Kallibrig in Weisdale, as he felt until the road was upgraded lower speeds are necessary over a greater distance.

However, following a vote the decision was made to drop the limit to 50mph and instruct the roads department to explore further reductions in the area – with proposer Alex Armitage not wanting the project to suffer any delays.

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