The Stromeferry Bypass is on schedule to completely reopen near the end of this month. However, a recently released report suggests the rock face is still at risk of collapsing.
Robert John MacInnes, admin of the Stromeferry Bypass Updates 2018 Facebook page, told The Skye Times: "The 2018 report for the rock face inspections carried out on the Bypass was released a week or two ago. It details some very horrifying evidence that the Bypass is not just a 'potential collapse' risk, it is collapsing. Rocks and boulders are actually falling continuously down the rock face and are being caught in a roadside deer fence, as well as some actually reaching roadside ditches and the road. There are pictures attached to the report including large swollen cracks in huge boulders further up the hill, and collapses behind the already installed rock catch netting.
"Four sections of rock face are classed as 'very high risk' for collapse (five including the rock face currently being worked on), with seven sections marked as 'high risk.' The number of sections of rock face classed as high or very high risk has increased since 2017. 'Rock failure could potentially exceed net/reach road and railway' is a common statement throughout the report, along with 'due to budget constraints' meaning that the Council have not had the money to carry out full stabilisation work to many sections."
The Bypass is set to open without road on rail diversion from Saturday 24 November.
The majority of rock anchors have been installed and most of the new netting system is in place. After the installation of a new convoy system, travellers have been experiencing delays of around 20 minutes when trains are due.
Robert stated: "We have been assured by the Council that any further rock face works and planning (that require a road closure) will ensure that this new convoy system can be introduced from day one. We will hopefully not see a repeat of what happened at the beginning of the works.
"Our attention has now very much turned to the replacement options and I believe that the current works have reignited a spark - the community want to see change and fast. The STAG 2 report is currently being scrutinised by Transport Scotland and Cabinet Minister Michael Matheson, but the Scottish Government are still not intending to pay for the replacement option, whatever it may be. The Council very much seem to be going forward with the trunk road idea, meaning that the A890 would be re-classified as a trunk road and fall into the hands of the Scottish Government, who may be in a better position to pay for a replacement."
Robert continued: "Going forward, we are now going to do all we can to get a replacement option and funding on the table as soon as possible. Further works on the rock face are likely to take place next year resulting in another road on rail diversion and/or full weekend closures."
The full report can be viewed here.