by Colin Campbell
A COUPLE of days ago I headed down my usual shortcut pathway from Scorguie to King Brude Road to find it blocked halfway along by a small digger which had been manoeuvred into position to gouge deep holes in the verge and surrounding area for installation work of some kind.
“Sorry mate, 10 minutes or so till we get this bit done,” said one among a small group of hardhat workers cordially.
So I wheeled my bike around and cycled back up the hill and exited left on to a cul de sac street after 100 yards or so. Then I came to another dead stop, with the roadway blocked by heavy machinery and men doing a much bigger installation job, laying fibre optic cables.
Running out of options for finding a way out of the neighbourhood, I slumped on to the handlebars and just waited till a gap emerged where I could squeeze through and continue on my way, which soon led down into Kenneth Street, which has work due to continue there for the next 12 weeks.
I managed to get out of Scorguie but it seems that so many streets in Inverness at the moment are cordoned off, partly blocked off or re-routed as they’re churned up for roadworks of some kind.
Diggers, barriers and fluorescent jackets are everywhere. As are great big holes in the roadways. It’s not usually clear what’s being done – and who ever bothers taking the time to find out – but the city’s underground infrastructure is undergoing a makeover of epic proportions. It’s just as well it got us through lockdown before it collapsed entirely, given the apparent urgency of the need to get all this work done just now, from one end of Inverness to the other.
This explosion of graft and industry is in one way gratifying to see now that the dead hand of inactivity has been lifted from the city after 14 long months.
But did it all have to be done at the same time?
Complaints of delays, tailbacks and barely organised chaos from drivers heading into the city have been legion. No sooner is delay and disruption in one area removed when it flares up somewhere else.
Controversy surrounding city roadways has been a feature of the last year with a proliferation of barriers and bollards widening space for pedestrians and creating barely used cycle lanes. Now that in addition so many are being dug up at the same time the messiness of the situation has multiplied.
With the arrival of what promises to be an extremely busy tourist season imminent, the first impression any visitor might get of Inverness at the moment is that it is being rebuilt given the volume of work going on.
The only part of the city unaffected is the peaceful and tranquil riverside. Sorry, I forgot. The riverside, or at least part of it, is also being torn apart and rebuilt for the creation of the wall and concrete Gathering Place.
Nowhere is spared.
Someone somewhere is no doubt at least partly in overall control of all this, but then again maybe no-one is. With the work being done by different organisations maybe each has taken over a sector of disruption and is getting on with it in their own good time.
Either way, the co-ordinated or uncoordinated mass disruption with diggers, barriers, bollards, holes, tailbacks, temporary traffic lights, hard hats, and hold-ups just about everywhere leaves Inverness looking like a rather chaotic work in progress, worse than it’s been as far as I can recall. With many people due to arrive here on holiday, it is scarcely a charming and scenic welcome for them.