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Western Link Road Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. Why are the Council doing this?

  2. Is this not just part of a "city centre bypass"?

  3. If not, how will you stop people using it as a bypass?

  4. What will the future traffic flow be along this route?

  5. How will the plan for a new Elgin High School affect the need for this link road?

  6. How can you justify sending more vehicles past a primary school?

  7. What is proposed for Glen Moray Drive and Sandy Road?

  8. Would it not be better to improve the traffic flow on Alexandra Road?

  9. What will you do to discourage "rat-running"?

  10. Officers have failed to consider “Designing Streets”

  11. Should Designing Streets not have been considered before now?

  12. Have members of the ED&I Committee ever carried out a site visit to Wittet Drive?

  13. The stated objective of the project includes the desire to make the transport system “quicker”. Why does it have to be quicker?

  14. What will this do to support the economy and environment in Elgin?

  15. Increased capacity will lead to increased congestion!

  16. Should we not be encouraging modal shift away from the car to other, more sustainable forms of transport?

  17. When I purchased this property about 10 years ago I was assured that no road proposals affected it. I have now ascertained that information on this route was in the Local Plan 2000 which was published prior to Council giving this assurance.

  18. Is the decision to proceed with this road not just to aid the construction of a new supermarket and to justify taking developer contributions?

  19. How will the increased traffic impact on the properties on Wittet Drive and will residents be able to claim compensation?

  20. Isn’t this an alternative to a bypass?

  21. What about the increase in air and noise pollution, the increased risk of accidents and increased difficulty of children walking to schools?

  22. Why is this scheme necessary?

  23. Mature trees will be lost.

  24. The realignment at Sheriffmill is unnecessary.

  25. Saving the scheme will save £15million of the £30million the council needs to save.

  26. Why not just improve the existing A96 / Wittet Drive junction?

  27. Why not just widen The Wards and improve the junctions at either end?

  28. Increased traffic will clearly lead to more accidents and put our children at grater risk.

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1.    Why are the Council doing this?

Image showing protest sign

The approved Moray Local Plans for 2000 and 2008 identified new developments in the south of Elgin which included the construction of over 1200 new houses. To cater for this and the other development, a series of road infrastructure improvements were identified and referred to as TSPs in the Local Plan. This scheme is a continuation of these ongoing improvements.

One of the main reasons for the scheme is to provide a new crossing of the railway line in the west of Elgin to relieve the existing New Elgin Road railway bridge. This will enable local traffic to distribute more effectively around the town and help to “share out” the traffic loading currently affecting New Elgin Road, Bishopmill Brae and other streets.

 2.     Is this not just part of a "city centre bypass"?

Image showing No city Centre Bypass sign

No. This scheme is not intended to be part of an A96 bypass of the town and traffic will not be directed to use this route from the East or West.

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 3.     If not, how will you stop people using it as a bypass?

It is acknowledged that drivers are generally free to use any public road and there may be occasions when a small proportion may use this much longer route rather than a shorter, more direct route through the town centre. We would hope to work with Transport Scotland to ensure that traffic on the A96 through Elgin is kept flowing as well as possible.

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4.     What will the future traffic flow be along this route”?

Image showing protest sign

The number of vehicle movements will not be 10,000-15,000 by 2014.Currently Wittet Drive takes approximately 4,000 vehicles per day. We have to design roads for the forecast traffic15 years after opening and it is forecast to rise to approximately 9,600 vehicles per day.

The approximate daily flows for some other roads are:

 

Forecast Flows (2029)

Road

Current (2012)

With Scheme

Without Scheme

A96 East Road

22,800

22,600

21,500

Wittet Drive

4,000

9,600

6,100

Glen Moray Dr. / Sandy Rd

4,500

7,200

6,400

Thornhill Rd

6,400

6,300

5,600

Reiket Lane

7,800

7,600

7,200

Maisdondieu Road

9,100

11,000

10,100

New Elgin Road (Rail Bridge)

22,000

23,500

25,400

Hay Street

14,000

13,600

15,900

The above figures are 5-day averages over a 24 hour period (ie does not include weekends). 

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5.     How will the plan for a new Elgin High School affect the need for this link road?

The new High School will require a new access and this will be off an extension to Edgar Road. Depending on the timetable, it is possible that details of this will form part of the planning application for the school. It would however need to be constructed to a standard suitable for the affordable housing development near Bilbohall as well as, potentially the link road.

One possibility currently being considered is for a shared parent drop-off / pick-up area in school grounds away from the road that could be used for both the High School and Greenwards Primary.

Clearly whether Edgar Road is extended for an access to the High School and future housing or forms part of the western link road, additional traffic will be passing Greenwards Primary School.

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6.     How can you justify sending more vehicles past a primary school?

The Council is aware that Greenwards Primary School currently has no passing traffic. With careful consideration and consultation with the school, we plan to mitigate any significant environmental and design issues. There will be pedestrian and cycle facilities to and from the school as well as proper crossings to allow safe access across the road and to the wetlands.

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7.     What is proposed for Glen Moray Drive and Sandy Road?

There are potential improvements, identified in the 2008 Local Plan as TSPs, on Glen Moray Drive and Sandy Road as well as the adjacent junctions. These and the other improvements in the area are needed to cater for the development in the south of Elgin and the construction of them has progressed over a number of years.

It is acknowledged that whether by building the new High School, constructing the link road or simply providing an access to the affordable housing site at Bilbohall, traffic will increase along the west end of Edgar Road. Consequently there is a need to consider its junction with Glen Moray Drive. Similarly improvements to Sandy Road and Glen Moray Drive will be required to cater for the likely increase in traffic from the new houses in the south of Elgin.

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8.     Would it not be better to improve the traffic flow on Alexandra Road?

This alone would not solve the problem. The issues on Alexandra Road are separate from those being addressed by the link road. A lot of the problems on Alexandra Road are caused by the volume of local traffic using it and the need for safe pedestrian crossing facilities.

Moray Council will work with Transport Scotland to try to improve the flow of traffic along the A96 within Elgin but that will not avoid the need to construct another road crossing of the railway through Elgin.

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9.     What will you do to discourage "rat-running"?

We will consider the potential impact of the proposals on side streets and where appropriate use traffic calming measures or other deterrents to dissuade non-local traffic from using them.

10    Officers have failed to consider “Designing Streets”

Council engineers and their consultants Jacobs are aware of the policies contained within Designing Streets and have a view on their application to the project.

Designing Streets is particularly applicable now that we have an approved route and the Council is considering it during the design process.

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11    Should Designing Streets not have been considered before now?

The STAG assessment, carried out by the Council earlier in the process, included consideration of the movement of people as well as vehicles.

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12    Have members of the ED&I Committee ever carried out a site visit to Wittet Drive?

A number of members of the ED&I Committee visited locations in the south-west of Elgin, including the Wittet Drive area, earlier in the process. In addition, the scheme proposals have been in the Moray Local Plans since 2000 and have been the subject of many reports to the Council. Elected Members have been aware of the implications for Wittet Drive.

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13    The stated objective of the project includes the desire to make the transport system “quicker”. Why does it have to be quicker?

The term “quicker” does not necessarily mean higher speeds but is about more consistent journey times and providing greater flexibility in routes and options for drivers.

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14    What will this do to support the economy and environment in Elgin?

Image showing protest sign

The transport initiatives identified as TSPs in the Local Plan are there to provide the necessary infrastructure improvements to support development in and around Elgin. The Western Link Road (WLR) is included in these measures and is a significant and crucial part of those improvements. Without it a large number of both existing and proposed developments will be compromised.

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15    Increased capacity will lead to increased congestion!

Increased capacity is necessary to provide room for growth. Without growth Elgin will stagnate. It is worth remembering that increasing capacity does not necessarily generate additional traffic but may encourage the re-distribution of existing traffic.

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16    Should we not be encouraging modal shift away from the car to other, more sustainable forms of transport?

It is acknowledged that reducing the number of vehicle journeys and shifting to more sustainable forms of transport is a positive measure. However it must be recognised that Elgin is the regional centre for Moray, serving a wide catchment including other settlements and an extensive rural hinterland. The residents of the wider Moray area are generally dependant on the car as a means of accessing Elgin.

Within Elgin itself the Moray Council has already been investing in significant improvements to the walking and cycling network to encourage journeys by these modes on transport as part of the Urban Freedom project along with the provision of real time information at a number of bus stops within the city to encourage the use of public transport.

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17    When I purchased this property about 10 years ago I was assured that no road proposals affected it. I have now ascertained that information on this route was in the Local Plan 2000 which was published prior to Council giving this assurance.

The Elgin Road Strategy contained in the Moray Local Plan 2000 was no more than that, a broad strategy for future traffic management. Officers still had to consider the strategy’s requirements in detail. As a prerequisite of the investigation works into the strategy, Council approval was required and this was considered at Committee in April 2004 and has obviously been considered by the Council in much more detail in reports to the Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee this year.

Disclosing potential road schemes at an early stage, when there is no guarantee that they will proceed, could potentially blight properties which is neither appropriate nor fair for other residents in that area.

Given that this project is now at a much more advanced stage in terms of Council consideration and detailed design work, the Council is able to identify with more certainty the likelihood of the project proceeding and the actual impact on specific properties rather than making sweeping and unhelpful comments which could be considered to be inaccurate and not based on detailed information. This is a consistent stance which the Council has followed in respect of the road.

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18    Is the decision to proceed with this road not just to aid the construction of a new supermarket and to justify taking developer contributions?

Image showing protest sign

The Elgin transport infrastructure improvements identified in the Local Plan are crucial to the economic development of the town. These improvements have been identified for a number of years and are needed to keep pace with the current and on-going development.

Developer contributions are taken based on the impact the individual development is likely to have on the road network. Sometimes these contributions need to be aggregated in order to provide an effective solution.

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19    How will the increased traffic impact on the properties on Wittet Drive and will residents be able to claim compensation?

The increased traffic on Wittet Drive will impact on different properties in different ways.

Compensation will be available to some owners, other may be entitled but many are unlikely to have a basis to make a claim. Where land is acquired from a householder they will receive compensation for the land taken plus the depreciation in the value of their remaining property due to the scheme as well as compensation for disturbance caused by the scheme and the works.

If no land is acquired then owners will need to make a “Part 1” claim under the Land Compensation Act 1973.  To do this they must prove that the project has had a detrimental effect on their property value as a consequence of works.  An increase in the volume of traffic is not of itself eligible for compensation hence only owners adjoining new road sections are probably eligible to make a claim. 

As matters of compensation are often complex and can be very important to certain affected parties, we propose to contact all adjoining proprietors who are on the route with a guidance note outlining procedures we will follow and summarising affected parties rights. Further information is available here.

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20    Isn’t this an alternative to a bypass?

This project will provide another crossing of the railway in the west of Elgin and help the distribution of traffic in and around the town.

A proper bypass does a totally different job and would have limited access points into the town. The Scottish Government have indicated a plan to create a dual-carriageway between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2025

In reality there may be some traffic that at certain times will use the network of distributor roads in order to get through Elgin.

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21    What about the increase in air and noise pollution, the increased risk of accidents and increased difficulty of children walking to schools?

Environmental issues were considered as part of the option appraisal process. Further consideration of these aspects will take place during the detailed design phase. This will also consider provision for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

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22    Why is this scheme necessary?

The need for transport infrastructure improvements in Elgin has been identified for a number of years in the Local Plan. These improvements are necessary to cope with the on-going residential and commercial developments within Elgin. The town requires a network of roads to allow traffic to effectively distribute to the various parts.

Three of the four quadrants of Elgin have roads that currently help distribute traffic from the A941 and the A96.

  • Morriston Road in the NW
  • Lesmurdie Road in the NE
  • Reiket Lane/Thornhill Road in the SE.

There is no equivalent in the SW and this scheme helps provide this.

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23    Mature trees will be lost.

Image showing Save our Trees protest sign

The proposed A96 junction is now likely to consist of traffic signals at Sheriffmill Road. Not only does this require less land and no removal of large trees but it provides better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists at the junction.

If it becomes necessary to remove some trees there is considerable landscaping and tree planting included in the scheme design which will mitigate the loss. It should be remembered that Moray is one of the most forested areas in Scotland.  

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24    The realignment at Sheriffmill is unnecessary

 Image showing protest sign

Following the recent consultation officers are recommending traffic signals, which require only minor works on Sheriffmill Road and no realignment.

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25    Saving the scheme will save £15million of the £30million the council needs to save

Image showing a protest sign

The cost of the WLR is a one-off capital cost. The £30million savings comprises a recurring annual reduction. If, as requested by the campaign group the council did not go ahead with the road project and did not spend the £15million the annual savings arising would be £1million, reducing the £30million savings target to £29million.

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26    Why not just improve the existing A96 / Wittet Drive junction?

A number of solutions have been considered for an A96 junction. These include a roundabout at the existing junction as well as a signalised alternative. Transport Scotland have previously indicated that any junction should meet their design standards and they would not accept signals at the existing junction without the provision of a right-turning lane. In addition, the stop-lines would have to be set back so far from the junction to allow HGVs to turn, that the requirement for proper visibility cannot be met without demolishing properties. Traffic signals at this location would also impact on a significant number of existing driveways.

An acceptable roundabout cannot be constructed at the existing junction without demolishing property.

Two reports on the junction solutions were submitted to the Economic Development & Infrastructure Services Committee on 6 September 2011. The first report was submitted in confidence and accompanied by a presentation. The second report followed on from the first and asked for a decision. Both reports and a copy of the presentation can now be found on the Reports section.

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27    Why not just widen The Wards and improve the junctions at either end?

Network Rail would likely object to an improvement of The Wards whilst retaining the level crossing. Technically it would be very difficult to construct a bridge over the railway line at this junction. With a minimum clearance of 4.86m from the rails to the underside of a bridge. To do this would require both The Wards and Wards Road to be raised significantly and the construction of an elevated junction. This would require the demolition of properties.

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28    Increased traffic will clearly lead to more accidents and put our children at grater risk.

 

Whilst this road will affect the flow and distribution of traffic, it will not itself create new traffic. Improved pedestrian and cycle facilities together including better crossings of the road will make it easier and safer for vulnerable users such as school children, pedestrians and cyclists.

 

 

Injury Accidents

No of People

Fatal or Serious

Pedestrian Accidents

Cyclist Accidents

Fatal or Serious

1980 - 1985

325

396

85

117

59

44

2006 - 2011

162

180

19

51

25

11

 

Although both vehicle traffic and cycling has significantly increased since the 1980s, the level of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists has seen a major drop. Generally roads are much safer now than they used to be.

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Frank Knight, Moray Council
Direct Services - Consultancy Section
PO Box 6760
Elgin
IV30 9BX

Tel: 01343 563757

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