Renewing a historic road, to deal with heavy loads! No problem with a Roadmaster!

In 1851 the residents of North Yell set to work on the Gutcher to Cullivoe Road (B9082). The project was commissioned by the Highlands Destitution Relief Board, and the road was built to take the weight of horse and cart traffic. Roll forward to 2019, and this same road, with minimal improvements is now taking the traffic of one of the country’s busiest ports! The Roadmaster Spray Injection Patching unit has been instrumental in keeping this economically essential road; known locally as the Salmon Road, in an operational state of repairs.

Shetlands largest industry is aquaculture and the efficient running of this business underpins the region’s economy. In 2017, Government figures show the total tonnage of whitefish landed at Cullivoe was 3,213 and was valued at £6.3 million. This places Cullivoe among the top twelve landing ports in the UK. According to figures from Shetland Aquaculture and Seafood Shetland; 30,360 tonnes of salmon were landed at Cullivoe valued at £130.5 million; almost half of all the salmon produced in Shetland! This thriving industry has caused a huge growth in the level of traffic being accommodated by this historic road. On average, 7 articulated trucks travel this road daily for the haulage of salmon and whitefish. There is also significant heavy load traffic related to the construction of industry specific infrastructure such as salmon cages. This level of use, which continues to grow, amounts to a total of 3,410 articulated truck movements per year on this single-track road. The Salmon Road supports the entire aquaculture industry in the North Isles. 

However, in September 2018 the Roads Service Engineer, Neil Hutcheson for the North Isles expressed concern regarding the deterioration in the condition of the road and the implications this had for road safety, a view that was supported by the Executive Manager for Roads, Dave Coupe.

Following this review, it was found that the widening of the B9082 over its entire length was not a practical or economic option due to the peat soils on which the road was built. The surface of this road has consolidated over the years as it has been trafficked by an increasing number and weight of heavy vehicles. Despite having a very shallow construction, it is able to withstand relatively heavy loading. However, as soon as the surface is disturbed by any excavation through or adjacent to the road it becomes difficult to achieve a consistent reinstatement without disturbing the existing surface. The overlay resurfacing of the road is not an option either. The edge of any resurfacing is not vertical and slopes back from the carriageway edge with a grade of approximately 2 in 1. Therefore, for every 150mm increase in height the road will narrow by 75mm on each side giving a total reduction in width of 150mm. The result being that the narrowest sections of road, that are currently 2.6 metres wide, would be reduced to 2.45 metres in width. This is less than the legal permitted width of 2.55 metres for vehicles specified in “The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986” as amended, meaning that HGV’s would be overhanging the road edge.

These challenges and the necessity to keep the road operational, encouraged the Shetlands roads team to look for innovative solutions. Following a competitive tendering competition, the Roadmaster Spray Injection Patching machines were awarded the contract. The work was completed under contract by Archway Roadmaster Ltd in May 2019. The repair work was managed and finished by the Roadmaster team on time and within budget. The successful repairs enabled the B9082 to remain open. Neil Hutcheson, Roads Service Engineer, North Isles was delighted with the quality, consistency and longevity of the repairs and has added the Roadmaster to his arsenal of road maintenance solutions across the North Isle’s on an annual basis.  Neil said “Archway Roadmaster Ltd and their spray injection patching machine have made a huge difference to the condition of the Cullivoe Road. The carriageway was in a very poor state and any further deterioration may have required the introduction of a weight limit on the road. This was clearly an outcome that had to be avoided due to the Cullivoe Pier and its importance to Shetland’s aquaculture industry. We needed a cost effective means of repairing the numerous defects along the road. These repairs also had to be done efficiently to minimise delays and disruption to the pier traffic. The Roadmaster met all these requirements with costs and the time taken significantly less than traditional patching by “hand.”  I have also been impressed by the quality of the patching resulting in a noticeable improvement when driving along the road. The Roadmaster has now become an additional treatment option that we intend to use throughout Shetland alongside other more traditional options such as surface dressing and resurfacing.”