Aberdeenshire engineers using forestry fund to boost improvements to roads network in Marr

Rural roads are currently being improved across Deeside and Donside, partly paid for using a national fund made available for work on routes used by timber lorries.

Eight roads across the Marr area are benefitting from a project which aims to create sustainable routes for current and future timber traffic operations.

This is being done by strengthening carriageways and road edges, creating passing places and improving bends and drainage, with all work to be completed by February.

As well as increasing the capacity of the road network to carry timber transport vehicles, the tougher infrastructure also reduces maintenance and repair requirements due to slowed deterioration.

Aberdeenshire Council is combining its own roads improvement and maintenance budget for the area with funds from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

Marr roads engineers made a successful application to its Strategic Timber Transport Scheme (STTS), proposing various improvements to the capacity of the road network.

An FCS panel recognised the considerable volumes of timber moving on local roads and the impact this can have on other road users in rural communities. 

It agreed to contribute to the improvements - 50% of the cost for eligible A-class roads and 70% for all other roads.

In total, around £1.5million will be spent - £630,517 from Aberdeenshire Council budgets and the remainder from FCS, up to a total of £944,827.

Eight A, B and C-class roads are being targeted, all within the Grampian Timber Transport Group area, covering two significant forestry catchment areas in Deeside and Donside.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Roads, Philip McKay, said: “This project will improve current and future road conditions between and along minor public roads forecast to carry significant volumes of timber over the next ten years.

“The local public road network will be made stronger, ultimately requiring less maintenance and repair, and doing the work now, ahead of timber harvesting operations, minimises disruption to local communities and the forest industry.”

The minimum volumes of timber harvesting activities over a 10 year period in the Donside area accumulate to 598,314m3 and in the Deeside area to 171,791m3.

On Donside roads affected are: C56S Clatt to Kennethmont; C43M between Woodside to Lynturk; C60M between Jct C61M to Jct B9119 Tillylodge; C62M between Jct C60M at Brae Smiddy to Leochel Cushnie; and A944 Edinglassie to Culfork.

A total of £807,824 is being invested in these roads - £551,541 of STTS funding and £256,283 from Aberdeenshire Council.

This will enable: 29,460m2 of carriageway strengthening; 7,890m of edge strengthening; 1,200m carriageway widening; construction of five passing places, six bend improvements; and 3,040m of drainage improvements.

On Deeside, the roads being improved are: A97 between Dinnet to Rippachie  - at Dinnet to Kinord and Ordie Crossroads to Muirpark; B976 between Dinnet Bridge to Burnroot Sawmill; and C17M Whitestone to AA Box.

A total of £767,520 is being invested in these roads - £393,286 of STTS funding and £374,234 from the council.

This will enable: 53,900m2 of carriageway strengthening; 2,942m of edge strengthening; and 796m of drainage improvements.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee and local councillor (Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside), Peter Argyle, said: “This work will deliver significant benefits to local communities and a range of other road users by increasing the safety of motorists, cyclists and walkers, improving traffic flow and helping to minimise disruption and congestion, particularly during the peak tourist season. 

“In addition, the provision of a stronger, more resilient running surface and reinforced carriageway edges will also reduce the risk of conflict between timber lorries and other motorists and improve driver comfort.”

For more information on the STTS awards, see: http://bit.ly/2IGSHsS