Completion of upgrade to Keith/Buckie route to be dropped

B9016 - upgrade plans to be scrapped?
B9016 – upgrade plans to be scrapped?

PLANS FIRST LAID eight years ago to upgrade the road link between Buckie and Keith are set to be scrapped by Moray Council.

Upgrades to the B9016 linking the Moray towns were first approved in 2007, when it was decided a ‘safe road’ should be created in the wake of a high accident rate along the route.

The first stage of the road upgrade was completed in 2012 when work on the section between Broadleys and the Clochan Junction were completed. The following year the economic development and infrastructure committee moved the project’s next stages by agreeing to develop design works to a point where land acquisition could be negotiated.

Subsequently the second and third stages of the road improvement plan were progressed and a combined estimated cost of £3.9million revealed – taking the total cost of completed the project to over £5million when other factors were taken into account.

Now Councillors will be advised on Tuesday to call a halt to the project, with the Senior Engineer Consultant noting that the accident rate and traffic on the route did not justify the capital expenditure at this time.

The report notes: “Since 2013 there have been six accidents – four damage only, one serious and one fatal. There was no detectable pattern or trend connecting these accidents. During this period the Council has improved signing and lining along the route.”

In addition, the report says, a traffic survey conducted in November showed a daily average of 1000 vehicles in each direction.

The report notes the strategic importance of the route and possible changes in traffic flow that may be the result of development at Buckie Harbour, saying: “The B9016 provides a link between the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness trunk road and the A98 coastal route. It shortens the journey between Keith and Buckie by 5.5km.

“It is also an arterial route used by agricultural vehicles and an important link for communities.

“The potential development of Buckie Harbour as an offshore wind farm support facility including any increase in traffic volumes that this may generate may have an influence on a decision regarding upgrade works on the B9016 but this remains speculative.  Similarly the route of the future A96 is another unknown which may have an influence on the case for upgrading of this road.”

However, the report urges committee members to recommended scrapping further upgrades on the route at this time, saying:  “The economic justification for road improvements is primarily journey time related.

“With only marginal time savings, and very low traffic volumes, the benefit to cost ratio for schemes along the route will be well short of the minimum level of 1.”