Decision on long-sought improvements to ‘death trap’ road set for January

A councillor has told of his involvement in a serious accident on a busy stretch of road in highlighting the urgent need for improved safety.

Shetland South member Allison Duncan told today’s (Monday) policy and resources committee meeting that improvements to the A970 at Levenwick were “long overdue” and he was pleased to finally see an outline business case for its redevelopment.

“This patch of road has a bad history,” he said.

“I’ve called it a death trap as unfortunately we’ve had deaths in the plural on this particular part of the road over the years.

“We’ve also had some serious accidents as well.”

Mr Duncan said he had been involved in one such accident in recent years.

While he escaped unharmed, Mr Duncan said the occupant of another car was badly hurt after their vehicle tumbled as far as 80 yards down the embankment.

Mr Duncan said he was “eternally grateful” for the rapid response of the emergency services.

He also highlighted an incident in which a lorry toppled over on the summit, as well as numerous near misses.

“It has to be a priority that we get this part of the road up to the standard which is required,” he said.

Mr Duncan said the stretch of road was one of the busiest in Shetland with airport traffic from early in the morning to late at night. 

He said his preference was for the most expensive of the eight road improvement options, which would cost of £7.4m.

This would involve the building of an entirely new 6.9m wide two lane road with safety barriers between the north and south Levenwick junctions.

Fellow Shetland South member, George Smith, said that while it was not a cheap option “you can’t really measure the cost of human life”.

“We’ve got to make sure that we have that carriageway as safe as we possibly can,” he added.

The third Shetland South councillor, Robbie McGregor also gave his backing and praised Mr Duncan for his tenacity in driving this foward.

Environment and transport chairman Ryan Thomson stressed the importance of proceeding at pace.

“The three South Mainland councillors have been pressing for this Levenwick road project to go ahead for quite some time,” he said.

“Now it seems to have taken a wee bit of traction it’s important that it never gets parked again and that we continue to move it forward at quick speed.”

The meeting heard a full business case for the project would be back before the committee in January for a decision.


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