A9, A87 and M90 set for vital repair work in November

Several high-profile road maintenance projects are set to begin across Scotland this month.

The biggest will be the improvement of the two bridges on the A9 near Dunblane, Auchinlay Rail Bridge and Allan Water Bridge.

This £690,000 project to replace the bridge’s joints is highly complex, involving large machinery to help remove the old bridge joints across both carriageways. The new joints will then be set in place using concrete to repair the bridge deck, with both bridges then waterproofed and resurfaced.

Due to its complexity, the project is expected to take seven weeks to complete, with work split into two phases. The first of these will run from November 19th until December 12th, with the second getting underway after the festive period from January 14th 2019.

The A9 will remain open throughout with a contraflow system in operation to ensure the safety of roadworkers and motorists during the upgrades.

Elsewhere, a new £100,000 maintenance project for the A87 Dornie New Bridge will begin on the same date for four weeks (November 19th).

The upgrade ensure the bridge continues to operate safely for years to come by replacing the expansion joints at either end of the structure. At the same time, the footpath surface will be replaced to benefit pedestrian safety.

A section of the M90’s southbound carriageway (between Junction 1 Scotstoun and M9 Junction 1A) will be closed for essential structural maintenance works between 8pm and 6am on the nights of Wednesday 14th, Thursday 15th and Friday 16th November.

A spokesperson for operating company Amey said the work will reduce future maintenance requirements and costs by addressing faults at an early stage.

Finally, ground investigations for a 15-mile section of the A9 between Dalraddy and Slochd will begin on November 19th for around 17 weeks.

Some traffic management measures will be required when necessary to allow work beside the carriageway to be carried out safely. This will include alternate single-file traffic sections controlled by temporary traffic signals.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The first dualling scheme between Kincraig and Dalraddy opened to traffic in September last year and following the appointment of the contractor for the Luncarty to Pass of Birnam project, preparatory works are already underway with on-site activity expected to increase from early 2019.

“At the same time, design work on the A9 dualling programme continues at pace with eight of the nine remaining dualling schemes being designed now at draft order stage.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, added: “These projects will most likely cause delay for Scottish motorists, but the repairs are essential to ensuring their safety.”

Photo: Inverness_trucker/Flickr

Mercedes A-Class gets two new diesel engines

Mercedes A-Class gets two new diesel engines

Two new efficient diesel engines are now available in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The A 200 d Sport and the A 220 d AMG Line have been tested to new RDE-2 standards, which means Mercedes-Benz is among the first to offer RDE-2-compliant diesel engines in the UK. These engines will also feature in the new B-Class when it goes on sale in December.

Company car drivers will benefit from tax savings due to the removal of the four per cent BIK diesel surcharge for the life of the vehicle. Private customers will also benefit from a lower road fund licence, allowing a one band saving.

This means purchasing the new A 220 d AMG Line can provide business users, who pay 40 per cent income tax, a cost saving of £460.68 over three years in comparison to the old model.

Priced at £28,805, the A 200 d is the more economical of the two new additions. It is powered by a two-litre diesel engine with an output of 148bhp and 320 Nm of torque. On the combined cycle, it delivers up to 67.3 mpg, emitting 110 g/km of CO2, and given a straight road, it can get from zero to 62mph in 8.1 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 137mph.

Meanwhile, the A 220 d (£30,005) also uses a two-litre diesel engine, but it has been tuned to churn out 187bhp and 400 Nm of torque. Running costs are still impressive, reaching 65.7mpg at 114 g/km CO2 combined, while 0-62mph is doable in seven seconds. Speed peaks at 146mph.

Both engines come standard with an 8G-DCT eight-speed automatic transmission.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “These two new diesel engines report some attractive figures but the entry-level A180 d remains the most efficient A-Class available right now, with 108g/km CO2 and 68.9mpg.”

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One in eight drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel

More than a quarter of fatal road accidents are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel, government figures suggest.

The latest road casualty statistics from the Department for Transport show that drowsy drivers were to blame for 53 fatal and 351 serious crashes in 2017.

However, the true figure for fatigue-related crashes is believed to be much higher due to under-reporting, with up to 25 per cent of fatal accidents estimated to have been caused by people who have dropped off driving.

An online poll of 20,561 UK drivers in September found that one in eight (13 per cent) have fallen asleep at the wheel.

In addition, close to two in five (37 per cent) admitted that they have been so tired they have been worried they would fall asleep when driving.

Who is most likely to drive tired?

Men were deemed to be three times as likely as women to say they have fallen asleep at the wheel (17 to five per cent).

The research raised concern that young drivers, aged between 18 and 24, are the most at-risk. This group was found to be the most likely to say tiredness doesn’t affect their driving ability (13 per cent compared to two per cent of all drivers), as well as being the most likely age group to say they normally carry on driving if they feel tired (18 to three per cent).

Close to three in five (57 per cent) stop for a break as soon as they realised they might be too tired to drive. This figure dropped to just 34 per cent for 18-24-year olds.

One in ten (11 per cent) knew they were tired when they began their journey, increasing to  29 per cent for 18-24-year olds.

When asked why they were so tired, almost two in five (39 per cent) said they’d had a hard day at work, while a third blamed the monotony of the journey.

Around a quarter pinned their tiredness on trying to cover too much distance in one day and a lack of sleep the night before.

Tiredness is inevitable, managing it is crucial

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director, believes that drowsiness is one of the most underestimated risks on the roads.

“Tiredness is a fact of life at some point for most of us and it is crucial we know how to manage it in relation to driving,” he commented.

“Crashes involving a drowsy driver tend to be catastrophic. If a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel, they do not brake before an impact and make no attempt to steer away from a collision.”

Jez Strong, general manager for Tele-Gence, added: “Some drivers wind down the window or turn up the radio to wake themselves up. But the truth is that the only remedy is to take a break.”

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Delivering a better service – have your say

Highways England manages the 4,300 miles of motorways and strategic trunk roads in England, known as the Strategic Road Network (SRN), and is looking for your views on what it is doing well, what it could do better and initiatives that you feel would improve the service.

Highways England has recently commenced a project aimed at improving the service it provides to the freight and road haulage sector. The three-year initiative incorporates a wide-ranging external engagement exercise which will help Highways England to understand the needs of the transport sector, while influencing future planning and operational decisions.

Highways England would like to get your views on areas such as:

  • How your organisation interacts with Highways England and the SRN
  • How the operation of the SRN affects your organisation
  • How you think Highways England is performing with respect to the service it provides to customers and in particular road freight

Highways England has produced a survey and would be very grateful for your views. The survey, which closes on 30 November, can be accessed here. Completing the survey should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes of your time.

If you have any queries, contact freight@highwaysengland.co.uk

Driving in the EU post Brexit


The Department for Transport has published guidance on what commercial drivers may need to do to drive in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

The guide includes information on:

  • The requirements for UK commercial drivers in Europe after the UK leaves the EU
  • UK commercial drivers and haulage companies transporting goods abroad
  • Community licences and European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits
  • Trailer registration

To find out more, visit gov.uk