Highland Council has confirmed that it will seek a long term solution for Stromeferry that will minimise disruption.
In a ‘lessons learnt’ session held last week, the Council acknowledged that works to stabilise a section of rock face completed in November had caused a significant amount of disruption.
Although this was eased during the works by the implementation of a signalling system by Network Rail to control the interface between the rail and road traffic more efficiently, the Council said the nature and timing of any further stabilisation works would be considered to minimise disruption.
Trac Engineering undertook the remediation work that was completed last month, which included the installation of 240 rock anchors with an active netting system draped over parts of the rock face. A concrete buttress was created on a small section to support an overhanging rock face close to road level.
The 2018 annual inspection undertaken at Stromeferry by specialist geologists, identified four very high risk slopes and seven high risk slope areas and the Council is planning to undertake further remedial works.
Highland Council said that it proposes the four very high risk slopes are prioritised and that work is currently ongoing to establish the most appropriate stabilisation techniques and how they can be undertaken safely whilst minimising traffic disruption.
Due to the location and nature of the works it is likely that road onto rail solution -where rail signals give the traffic more time to cross the railway to ease congestion - will again be adopted for one of the slopes, said the Council.
Network Rail have already indicated their willingness to work with the Council to minimise disruption.
The Highland Council Environment Development and Infrastructure Committee chair Allan Henderson said: “We are well aware of the recent assessment and we are committed to find the funds necessary to undertake these works, a paper will be brought to committee at the end of January where we shall consider both the timing and funding of the works.
“I am confident that the design team will provide excellent advice to allow the works to progress.
“Works to the existing rock face is a sticking plaster with the long term solution being recognised by all as the goal. I have asked officers to recommend the formation of a cross party options selections group such that this group can consider all the work that has been done on consideration of the options and all the related issues, such that a recommendation from this group on the preferred long term solution can be established.
“We shall also work with funding partners with the aim of finding the necessary funding – in the first instance to progress the design and consents and then the even greater challenge of funding the works.”
The Highland Council will undertake consultations with the communities early in the New Year to consider the works, the timing and the traffic impacts and mitigation measures.