Repairs required for 9 in 10 Scottish road bridges – and the bill is rising…

Nine in ten bridges on Scotland’s main roads have defects that require repairs – and the cost to fix them has increased by more than half since 2009, The Scotsman reports.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson recently admitted that most of the road bridges in Scotland were in need of repair.

However, the cost of carrying out the work has shot up to £570 million in the last eight years.

Scottish Labour, which released the figures, said the situation is likely to “leave many members of the public worried”.

The data reveals that 1,720 of 1,933 bridges (88.9 per cent) on the trunk road network require repair work.

More worryingly, it remains unclear when the backlog of outstanding bridge repairs – which are operated by the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency – would be cleared.

Mr Matheson said he was unable to estimate a timescale for the bridge maintenance backlog due to the calculation being dependent on a number of unknown variables, such as future funding levels, deterioration rates and network availability.

“We will continue to use well-developed asset management practices to ensure the areas of most need are prioritised to keep the trunk road network safe and available for use,” he commented.

Just weeks before the figures emerged, Transport Scotland’s chief bridge engineer Hazel McDonald called for a major boost in funding “to prevent issues becoming critical”, urging the current £64 million annual budget to be increased towards £100 million over the next few years.

Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland reports that the repair backlog grew from £60 million to £372 million between 2004 and 2010.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, added: “Safety on Scotland’s roads should never be neglected, so the transport secretary should clarify the severity of these bridge defects and listen to the warnings over a lack of investment.”

Photo: Shutterstock

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

Jaguar wins big at 2018 Scottish Car of the Year awards

Jaguar secured a hat trick of gongs at this year’s Scottish Car of the Year awards.

The premium car maker’s E-Pace compact SUV was named ‘best premium SUV’, while the I-Pace electric SUV won the title of ‘best alternative fuel car’ before going on to clinch the overall prize of ‘car of the year’.

The ceremony, held at the Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club on November 2nd, marked the fourth time Jaguar has taken home the top award.

It also capped an incredible week for the Jaguar I-Pace after it was named as the first-ever German Car of the Year.

Other winners

In other categories, the Volvo V60 won ‘estate car of the year’, the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer was named ‘best 4×4’, while the Suzuki Swift Sport topped the ‘best hot hatch’ group.

The Insignia Country Tourer is essentially a rougher, tougher version of the popular company cruiser, brandishing all-round black protective cladding with silver front and rear skid plates, with all-wheel-drive and an extra 20mm of ground clearance, compared to the standard model.

John Murdoch, president of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, which organise the annual awards, said the Insignia Country Tourer offers a great blend of comfort, safety, space and style at a very reasonable price.

“Last year’s Beast from the East resulted in Scotland having its worst winter for many years and the wise owners of four-wheel-drive vehicles were able to get around while others struggled,” he commented.

“Some great new offerings in this sector were launched during the past year, but Vauxhall’s Insignia Country Tourer made it to the top of our shopping list.”

Douglas McColm, Vauxhall’s Insignia product manager, added that the Country Tourer has been a massive success in Scotland.

“We are thankful for the recognition with this award win,” he said. “Scottish drivers depend upon our car for its certainty and reliability in the worst weather conditions.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, comments: “Scottish motorists often demand more from their cars compared to drives elsewhere in the UK, and this list provides a solid basis for which cars are the most suitable.”

2018 Scottish Car of the Year – full winners list:

Small: Hyundai Kona
Family: Ford Focus
Family Crossover: Peugeot 5008
Executive: Kia Stinger
Premium Crossover: Jaguar E-Pace
Four-Wheel-Drive: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
Estate: Volvo V60
Sports: BMW M5
Alternative Fuel: Jaguar I-Pace
Hot Hatch: Suzuki Swift Sport
Pick-Up: Ford Ranger
Used Car: Kia Sportage
Innovation and Technology: Mazda Spark Controlled Compression Ignition system


Image: Transport Scotland

M8 is three times more dangerous than any Scottish road

The M8 has been named Scotland’s most dangerous road after figures revealed that it sees three times as many fatalities than any other road in the country.

Figures show that the road connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh has had the most deaths in the country between 2007 and 2016, with 1,812 reported crashes involving 3,311 vehicles.

Behind it is the M74, but this road, which runs from Glasgow into the north of England, has had significantly less collisions than the M8 – 568 with 768 vehicles involved.

In contrast, the M898 has been labelled Scotland’s safest motorway, with only 17 accidents in ten years, none of which were fatal.

The figures, which look at all reported incidents on UK roads between 2007 and 2016, found that the M876, M77 and M898 have had zero fatalities.

Widening the scope, Gloucester’s A38 was deemed to be the UK’s most dangerous road, with 8,698 accidents involving 13,153 vehicles.

However, the A1 was the most deadly, with 172 people losing their lives over the past decade.

Britain’s roads are becoming safer overall though, with the number of reported accidents dropping year-on-year, with 25 per cent fewer crashes registered on major roads in 2016 than 2007.

Rebecca Donohue, head of marketing at Carole Nash – which obtained the figures through a a freedom of information request – said: “Safety is naturally paramount to every road user, so we hope this data and the road safety hub on our website will help provide motorists with as much information as possible to keep them safe.

“It is very positive though to note that the number of accidents across the country is steadily decreasing year-on-year, which is testament to road users and those who enforce the safety precautions on our highways.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, added: “Scotland’s roads were the safest on record in 2017, and we can imagine everything that can be done to improve the M8 is already being done.”

Photo: USMAN HAMEED/iStock

Road deaths in Scotland ‘at the lowest levels since records began’

The number of casualties on Scotland’s roads hit a record low in 2017.

Figures from the Scottish Government show that 146 people were killed as a result of road accidents in Scotland during 2017, which is 45 (or 24 per cent) less than in the year before.

Similarly, the number of fatal accidents dropped by 34 (or 19 per cent) in 2017 to 141, while 1,589 people were seriously injured in road accidents – a decline of 110 (six per cent) on 2016.

Overall, there were a total number of 9,428 casualties in 2017 – 1,477 (14 per cent) fewer than in 2016.

Despite a 27 per cent rise in road traffic across Scotland since 1995, accidents have fallen by 57 per cent, serving as testament to the work in making the country’s roads safer.  

Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, praised the “actions taken by all those involved in improving road safety”.

“Casualties on Scotland’s roads are at the lowest levels since records began,” he said.

“While I and the Scottish Government’s road safety partners can welcome this long-term trend of decreasing road casualties since 2004, this fact brings no comfort to the friends and relatives of people who have tragically died on Scotland’s roads.

“This point is felt particularly this year, when people across Scotland have had to come to terms with incidents which have shaken local communities and the nation as whole.”

Mr Matheson went on to say that the government will ensure that effective educational resources are delivered across the country, targeting the most vulnerable road user groups.

It will also continue to work to transform driver behaviour through safety camera programmes.

He added: “We are now upping key stakeholder encouragement to do more as we move towards our final push to achieve our 2020 road casualty reduction targets on Scotland’s roads.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, commented: “The numbers don’t lie: road safety in Scotland is moving in the right direction.”

Photo: USMAN HAMEED/iStock