THE Highland Council has agreed an additional investment of £20 million in the constituency’s road maintenance programme.
The local authority has the longest road network in the UK, with 4,000 miles of local roads, 1,000 miles of footpaths, and 1,400 miles of bridges spanning a region covering one third of Scotland.
The council said the investment will bring a budget of £3.7m per annum to be allocated to strategic road maintenance schemes with the aim of targeting some of the larger, more costly schemes, where significant investment may be required to improve the existing road network, or towards strategic projects which tie in with investment from developer contributions and potential match funding for improvements.
A budget of £3.6m per annum will be distributed across the operational areas using the same historic methodology which utilises the road condition survey results (SRMCS). Area road managers will consult members on their proposals for the next two years.
An allocation of £100,000 per annum will be allocated to each council ward. Projects will be at the discretion of ward Members and decisions will be reported to the relevant Area Committees for approval in line with governance arrangements.
£500,000 will be allocated, annually, towards the purchase of specialised vehicles which will assist in the general maintenance of the road network. Wherever possible, fleet investment will focus on delivering the most up to date low carbon plant and machinery.
The council added that it is anticipated that there will be further opportunities to promote active travel initiatives over the next two years, so members agreed to an allocation of £100,000 per annum to support any potential funding bids.
Of a £7.2m base allocation, £5.2m will be distributed between the areas for road resurfacing and surface dressing works with £650,000 allocated for bridge maintenance, £500,000 for match funding to support bids made under the strategic timber transport schemes, and £850,000 for schemes involving road markings, signage, safety fencing, winter drainage and footways across all geographic areas.
Councillor Trish Robertson said, “The increased spending on roads infrastructure reflects our commitment to invest as much as we can on improving our road network. This is a high priority for us, our communities and fundamental to connectivity and the entire economy of the Highlands. We have the largest network of roads of any Local Authority and our staff have to deal with some of the most severe weather in the UK so this investment is very welcome and will go some way to addressing work that is needed.”