WATER mains workers have put up bollards to stop "bonkers" drivers from squeezing their cars along a footpath heavily used by school pupils to bypass a major diversion in Strathpeffer.
Scottish Water had to seal off the walkway that links the primary school and the Spa Coaches depot days after work started to rebuild a manhole at the bottom of Garden House Brae, between the Square and the primary school.
The closure on the A834 prevents traffic travelling between Dingwall and Contin through the village. All through traffic is being diverted via the A835 Ullapool Road.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Water, which is leading the sewage works project, said it was obvious the "unavoidable" closure was causing frustration – but drivers had to be sensible.
She said: "We apologise for the disruption this has caused, however we urge people to drive sensibly and refrain from using the footpath in this manner, particularly given the increased number of pedestrians who are currently using this route, including school children. Barriers are now in place to prevent this occurring. We are working to complete the repairs as quickly as possible."
The works are progressing on schedule and the road is due to reopen on February 11.
Community councillor Archie Macnab said only a "few naughty ones" were driving on the footpath, but it was a dangerous thing to do.
"It’s quite important because the school kids go across it so we can’t have cars going along that as well," he said. "It’s a footpath and it should be used as a footpath only."
A local parent said: "There were some pretty bonkers drivers trying to avoid the road closure by squeezing through the footpath between the school and Spa Coaches. It’s usually fairly busy anyway, but now has rakes of kids using it. I don’t think anyone is annoyed with Scottish Water, who are just doing their job. But really, drivers having to go round to Dingwall the "long" way isn’t seriously holding anyone back enough to justify cutting through."
Scott Heath, senior project manager for aBV, which is carrying out the work, said: "Our team will endeavour to complete the phase of work that requires the road closure as quickly as we can – and we are putting mitigation measures in place to help minimise the inconvenience for residents in the meantime."
For updates, see www.scottishwater.co.uk/strathpeffer