Improvement work to start in summer

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WORK could be under way by the summer to improve road safety at a local accident blackspot, councillors were told this week.

At the time of going to press, members of Angus Council’s infrastructure services committee were due to consider an update report on the authority’s route action plan for the A935 Montrose to Brechin road.

The £1,675,000 scheme involves realigning three sets of bends on the road, at Mill of Dun, West Broomley and Balwyllo.

The plan has so far consisted of a series of short term improvements including improving the road’s surface and drainage although three cottages have already been demolished to make way for the realignments.

Dunmill Cottage, at Mains of Dun, was last month the final property to be demolished. The cottage was bought by the local authority last year as part of a £340,000 property deal to allow the scheme to go ahead.

It was acquired last October for £200,000 and followed the purchase of West Broomley Cottage for £140,000 in 2009.

The council successfully negotiated for the 5,866 square foot site at West Broomley to be declared surplus to requirements and transferred to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which exchanged it for a 5,629 square foot site at the same location.

The move was approved by members of the corporate services committee after corporate services director Colin McMahon said the site would be considered surplus after the road works are finished and the land swap would allow for the project to proceed more smoothly.

In his report to Tuesday’s meeting, infrastructure services director Eric Lowson said that negotiations to buy the land needed at all three locations is continuing although the process is almost complete.

He also said that the work will be phased to cause the least amount of disruption to traffic, with it beginning at West Broomley during the summer, at Balwyllo during the autumn and at Mill of Dun some time during the 2011/12 financial year.

Mr Lowson said a risk management exercise had been undertaken to identify what factors could threaten the scheme’s completion and, as well as price fluctuations between pre-tender and the contract starting, the main risk is with land negotiations.

He said: “The major risk to the delivery of this project at this time is land acquisition. Should, for some reason, land negotiations not be completed in early financial year 2011/12, this could result in an underspend in the division’s capital expenditure for 2011/12.

“Ongoing discussions with the landowners indicate that no problems are anticipated with the acquisition of the land required for the construction of the works but recent experience has shown that what are considered to have been relatively straightforward transactions have, through no fault of the council, taken longer than anticipated to be finalised.”