A BEAR Scotland manager is to look into what can be done to improve the safety of the A9 through Brora following numerous complaints from local residents.
Villagers are worried about their safety while walking on crumbling and uneven pavements running alongside the narrow trunk road, it has emerged.
And there is particular concern for the well-being of children as well as wheelchair users and users of mobility scooters.
A pinch point is the bridge over the River Brora and next to the War Memorial.
East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor Deirdre Mackay said that the situation was so bad, she was worried it was an "accident waiting to happen".
She had a site meeting this week with Thomas Deans, north west network manager for Bear Scotland – the firm which has the contract to maintain and manage the trunk road. Also present was police inspector Alasdair Goskirk.
Cllr Mackay said: "People have been coming to me regularly expressing concerns about the road which was never designed for the level of traffic there is on it now.
"There is a range of issues, particularly in the centre of the village in the vicinity of the bridge where both the pavement and the road are very narrow. When lorries negotiate this part of the A9, the vehicles are very close to pedestrians."
Cllr Mackay said she had recieved complaints from residents living in the north end of the village that vehicles were speeding well above the 30mph limit.
Meanwhile those living near the War Memorial were concerned at the speed with which vehicles came off the bridge and accelerated up the brae.
There have also been complaints about crumbling pavements, dropped kerbs and loose manhole covers.
Cllr Mackay said she had taken to a wheelchair herself in order to better experience what it was like for wheelchair users negotiating the pavements.
She said: "We walked the pavement along the A9 and paid particular attention to the hots pots about which there are concerns."
Cllr Mackay said Mr Deans had taken on board all the concerns.
She said: "He is going to find out when the last survey of this particular stretch of road was undertaken. If it was carried out within two years, then it is regarded as current. If it was outwith that period, then he has said he will commission a new survey to monitor traffic and speed. That survey will either be by strip sensor or radar."
Mr Deans is also going to look at the "hot spots" and consider what measures could be taken to encourage drivers to slow down. And he has asked local residents to report loose manhole covers to Bear Scotland.
Cllr Mackay said: "Mr Deans is going to look at appropriate options to influence driver behaviour. He is going to look in particular at what can be used to control traffic in the location of the bridge itself because that is a particularly worry."
Measures that could be taken include road markings, and "Smiley Sid", the radar activated speed indication display which shows a smiling face when drivers are within the limit and a sad face when they are not.
A spokesperson for BEAR Scotland said: "Trunk road safety is a top priority for BEAR Scotland, and we had a productive discussion with Councillor Mackay, Police Scotland and The Highland Council earlier this month about concerns regarding this section of the A9.
"The next steps are for us to provide Transport Scotland with a report on the key issues raised at the meeting, assess the maintenance issues in the village and determine what can be done to improve road safety."