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'High priority' work carried out at Watten accident blackspot after Groat highlighted issue – 'It’s only taken a number of crashes and press stories for this council to do the basics,' says ward councillor Andrew Jarvie


By David G Scott

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Lines were painted at the accident blackspot recently in Watten. Picture: DGS
Lines were painted at the accident blackspot recently in Watten. Picture: DGS

An accident blackspot in Watten was treated as a "high priority" case for white lining work after the paper tackled Highland Council about the problem.

Members of Watten Community Council (WCC) had previously discussed the four vehicle collisions and numerous "near misses" occurring at the junction of the A882 and B870 after the road was resurfaced last September – the failure to paint road markings at the junction was thought to be a contributory factor in the glut of accidents.

Highland Council resurfaced the area around the junction in September last year but left it without any road markings. Picture: DGS
Highland Council resurfaced the area around the junction in September last year but left it without any road markings. Picture: DGS

After contacting Highland Council about the issue, the paper was told that the roads teams were very busy but that the junction markings were "a priority" and work would be carried out as soon as the men and plant were available.

On July 18 the lines were finally painted with a Highland Council spokesperson saying: “We can confirm that Highland Council Caithness Area Roads staff carried out white lining works at Watten.

"This was their first job for the white liner this year and was their highest priority job. There will be more white lining of junctions and other road markings over the coming months (weather permitting).”

White lining work about to get underway at the Watten/Mybster crossroads on July 18. Picture: DGS
White lining work about to get underway at the Watten/Mybster crossroads on July 18. Picture: DGS

Andrew Jarvie, councillor for Wick and East Caithness, said: “Finally, it’s only taken a number of crashes and press stories for this council to do the basics and paint the lines on a known blackspot.

"However, this whole ordeal only underlines a key issue I’ve been battling for over five years in the council now – the chronic underfunding of our roads and roads equipment. Money is one part of it, and there is much waste and excess which can be cut to free up cash for roads.

“But common-sense is the other part, and common-sense is free. Such as why don’t the line painting team follow the resurfacing team 24 hours later. Or, why are the roads repair team the ones who drive the gritters in winter, so no repairs can be done? Why doesn’t the grass cutting team drive the gritters in winter? We don’t need grass cut in December, but it’s when the worst potholes happen.”

Watten crossroads showing tyre marks across the newly painted lines. Picture: DGS
Watten crossroads showing tyre marks across the newly painted lines. Picture: DGS

Related article:

When will Highland Council get around to painting lines at Watten's accident blackspot?

A 30ft tyre mark appeared across one of the thick white Stop line this week showing that some drivers may not be showing enough caution at the junction. The marking is a reminder to stop and give way to traffic before moving ahead when it is safe to do so. Iain Gregory, a retired police area commander and experienced accident investigator, said the tyre mark was probably caused by a vehicle "accelerating hard" away from the junction.

Speaking as part of Caithness Roads Recovery, Mr Gregory added: "We are very pleased to see that 'Stop' lines have – finally – been placed at this junction.

"We would urge motorists to exercise great caution throughout the county, as there are many junctions, in both urban and rural locations, where the white lines are nothing but a distant memory, greatly increasing the chances of an accident. The risk is particularly high when we have large numbers of tourists in the county, who are not familiar with the local roads layout, and who may well come from areas where road junctions are clearly marked."

Police attending the scene of a two-vehicle road accident at the junction in April. Picture: DGS
Police attending the scene of a two-vehicle road accident at the junction in April. Picture: DGS

Related Articles:

Two-vehicle smash at Watten crossroads

Two-vehicle crash at Watten

Newly appointed Provost of Wick, councillor Jan McEwan MBE said she was happy to see the white lining work finally get underway across the county. "I do appreciate that, due to the cost involved, it was prudent to do them all together," she said.

"However, with certain junctions like Watten and the John O’Groats junction, to name just two, they possibly should have had some temporary marking done as priority as these are accident spots – especially at this time of the year when foreign tourists are visiting our county.

"I would ask that all local drivers be careful at these accident prone junctions and be aware that tourists are not so familiar with our roads."


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