MORE than 150 people turned out to a public meeting in Lochcarron last night (Monday) to discuss solutions for the notorious rockfall-prone road at Stromeferry.
The meeting was called by Highland Council which has responsibility for the A890 Lochcarron to Lochalsh road, known as the Stromeferry bypass.
Meeting-goers heard that a public inquiry would be needed before a final go ahead could be given to the preferred option because of land acquisition issues.
Five years would be the earliest such a large project could go ahead, given the consents needed and the time needed to secure funding.
The options for upgrading the existing route range from £59 million to £115 million.
The estimated cost of providing a by-pass via Glen Udalain is £23 million. The bridge crossing near the Strome narrows and approach road is estimated to cost £60 million. The estimates do not include land purchase costs.
Councillor Graham Phillips, chairman of the Transport Environmental and Community Services committee, who chaired the meeting, said the council would return to the community in nine months time with more detailed information on the options.
"We very much welcome the views of the public on the options we displayed at the exhibition and others that we may have overlooked," he said.
"This will be the first of a number of consultations with the public as we take the project through its various stages of design development."
Rob Gibson MSP, who attended the meeting, pledged that the SNP Government would work with councillors to explore funding streams from local to European levels to help bring about a solution.
Fellow SNP MSP David Thompson, who was also there, said the options were between the Glen Udalain road and a bridge as he did not believe the existing road could not be made safe at reasonable cost.
Following the landslide on December 22 last year, the route remained closed until April 23.
The council commissioned a car ferry and a passenger ferry to maintain links between Lochcarron and Stromeferry and an early morning train for Plockton High School pupils. Traffic was later diverted on to the railway line while repair works continued.
The overall cost of dealing with the recent rock fall, including the ferries and additional train services, is estimated at £2.8 million.