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Alness is a sizeable town lying on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth, a few miles east of Dingwall. With the opening of the Cromarty Bridge and Kessock Bridge, Alness has become prime commuter territory for Inverness to the south, but a lot of its expansion was prior to the bridges and relates to the industrial development of Invergordon a few miles to the east. With the oil boom of the 1970s, the Cromarty Firth became an important base for North Sea Oil, and is still used for the storage and maintenance of rigs. A short lived Aluminium Smelter was built, along with other industries which brought thousands of workers to the area, and vast areas were turned over to industrial estates. Some of those industries, like the smelter, proved short lived, but others have taken their place and Alness remains at the heart of much of this.

The main road through Alness was always the Great North Road from Inverness to Caithness. In the 1810s Thomas Telford built the road over Struie Hill, now the B9176 as a short cut on the route north, but he also upgraded the older route through Alness and via Tain. It is this route which became the A9, after a few years as the A88. In the 1970s it became apparent that the old road through Alness and Invergordon was struggling to cope with the volume of traffic, and despite Struie Hill having been upgraded from being a B road - the B864 to an extension of the A836, it was necessary to bypass the town. As a result, a new road was built, bypassing Evanton, Alness, Invergordon and Kildary all in one. In places, it follows the former line of the B817, a route which was swapped with the A9, so that the B817 now follows the old A9 route through the towns.

One problem that is often highlighted with regards the new A9 route is that all of the accesses from Alness, and indeed Evanton are on the north side of the road, and with the road getting ever busier, right turns (for Dingwall and Inverness become more challenging. Invergordon is better served with a number of unclassified roads meeting the southbound side of the A9, but this is a long detour for Alness traffic. It could be possible to remedy this issue at Dalmore Junction where the B817 crosses the A9 by bridge, with a connecting road on one side only, but it is not known if this is seriously being considered.

To the south of Alness, the road over Struie Hill is now the B9176, which crosses the B817 at a staggered crossroads, the B9176 getting priority, and then meets the A9 at Struie Junction, also known as Skiach after the Skiach Services which lie just off the junction.


Route To Notes


Thurso, Tain NC500. Was B817


Inverness, Dingwall (A862) Moray Firth Tourist Route NC500. Was A88


Lairg, Ardross, Bonar Bridge (A836) Moray Firth Tourist Route. was A836, originally B864


Evanton Was A88 then A9


Invergordon Was A88 then A9

Related Pictures
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Bridges over the Averon - Geograph - 2020896.jpgDalneich Bridge over Alness River - Geograph - 1858679.jpg
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