FRUSTRATED commuters heading into Inverness found themselves caught up in long tailbacks yesterday morning as traffic officials carried out a survey on the A9 during the peak rush hour.
Some motorists caught up in the backlog complained they had been delayed by up to 90 minutes while Highland Council had to put back the start of a special planning meeting by an hour due to the late arrival of councillors at the Glenurquhart Road headquarters in Inverness.
Transport Scotland, which carried out the census on the southbound carriageway approaching the Kessock Bridge, eventually suspended the exercise after seeing the build-up of traffic.
Councillors Margaret Paterson and Alasdair Rhind, who attended the north planning applications committee meeting, were among the hundreds of furious motorists caught up in the queues.
"The traffic was horrendous," said Councillor Paterson, Independent representative for Dingwall and Seaforth. "I was also delayed about an hour. There could be nurses and doctors caught up in these delays.
"When they see the traffic building up to that extent they should maybe say ‘this is not a good idea, so let’s do it another day or at another time’."
Councillor Rhind, for Tain and Easter Ross, also queried why the survey was carried out during the main rush hour.
"Why, at the busiest time of the day?" he said. "I was delayed for an hour."
A spokesman for Transport Scotland apologised for the delays and said the surveys provided important evidence for transport projects in the Inverness area such as the A9/A82 Longman junction improvements.
"We appreciate that these surveys can cause delays and we do plan them to minimise delay," he said. "Advance warning of the surveys is not provided as this influences drivers to change their travel patterns which affects the quality of the data collected."