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Surface dressing season begins on Orkney roads

Orkney’s busy surface dressing season is set to begin, next week.

Drivers are being urged to allow extra time for journeys and drive courteously as Orkney Islands Council’s (OIC) Roads team begins vital surface dressing works.

The rolling programme of works will run from mid-May until early September across the Mainland, Burray and South Ronaldsay, Sanday and Stronsay — taking in 62 stretches of road, and an overall a total of around 70km.

The sections being dressed will be fully closed between 9am and 5pm each day, and detours signposted, to enable works to be completed as safely and as quickly as possible, with a better quality and more durable end result.

Council crews are due to be out and about on Mainland roads from next Thursday, May 20, completing surveys, pre-sweeps of road surfaces and setting up traffic management, with patching and resurfacing works starting soon after.

OIC’s roads and environmental services manager, John Wrigley, is asking drivers to be mindful of the heightened risks to crews as they work to make sure the county’s roads are well maintained for all to use.

“We’d remind drivers that loose chips after dressing present an increased skid risk,” Mr Wrigley said.

“The temporary speed limits on newly dressed roads once reopened to traffic are there to protect everyone. Not only does it reduce the likelihood of you skidding, but it also reduces the chances of the new chips being thrown up and striking other vehicles, pedestrians or members of the workforce. It will also protect your own vehicle from damage. All temporary speed limits are enforceable by our local policing colleagues.

“So please observe the speed limit signs — the consequences of losing control do not bear thinking about.

“You’d also be helping road works go smoothly, and reduce need for costly repairs, as lower vehicle speeds also help the chips bed in.”

Mr Wrigley has also appealed to drivers to remain patient when they encounter roadworks.

“I’d stress our workers rely on members of the public heeding the temporary traffic lights and other traffic management put in place,” he added.

“Jumping a light, shifting cones and barriers and driving unpredictably could have severe consequences for our workers and others as there is invariably heavy machinery in use.

“We thank the majority of drivers who show great care and appreciation for our crews year in and year out – but sadly each year crews do experience frightening driver behaviour. We’d remind everyone our staff are your neighbours, friends and relatives and are working in situations exposed to traffic, where one mistake could be catastrophic. Please take care, slow down and observe the systems in place to protect our staff who are also members of our community.”

Anyone who requires emergency access to roads which are closed for works can contact 876338 or speak to the member of staff at the traffic control point. The council has warned that speeding or unauthorised access through the work sites will be reported to police, as will any abuse directed towards staff.

An indicative programme of works is available on the Council website www.orkney.gov.uk.

Some public bus services will be impacted – changes to usual published timetables will be publicised ahead of time on a rolling basis, and will be available on the Council website at www.orkney.gov.uk/transport and at the Kirkwall Travel Centre.

Anyone with issues arising from these road works can contact the council’s roads support team on 873535.