Skip to content

Drivers urged to drive safe as surface dressing season starts on Orkney roads

Drivers urged to drive safe as surface dressing season starts on Orkney roads
13 May 2021

Drivers are being urged to allow extra time for journeys and drive courteously as Orkney Islands Council’s Roads team starts vital surface dressing works.

The rolling programme of works will run from mid-May to early September across Mainland Orkney, Burray and South Ronaldsay, Sanday and Stronsay, taking in 62 stretches of road, and an overall a total of around 70km.

The sections being dressed will be fully closed between 9am and 5pm each day, and detours signposted, to enable works to be completed as safely and as quickly as possible, with a better quality and more durable end result.

Council crews will be out and about on mainland roads from Thursday 20 May completing surveys, pre-sweeps of road surfaces and setting up traffic management, with patching and resurfacing works starting soon after.

Roads and Environmental Services Manager, John Wrigley, is asking drivers to be mindful of the heightened risks to crews as they work to make sure the county’s roads are well maintained for all to use: “We’d remind drivers that loose chips after dressing present an increased skid risk”.

“The temporary speed limits on newly dressed roads once reopened to traffic are there to protect everyone. Not only does it reduce the likelihood of you skidding, but it also reduces the chances of the new chips being thrown up and striking other vehicles, pedestrians or members of the workforce. It will also protect your own vehicle from damage. All temporary speed limits are enforceable by our local policing colleagues.

“So please observe the speed limit signs – the consequences of losing control do not bear thinking about.

“You’d also be helping road works go smoothly, and reduce need for costly repairs, as lower vehicle speeds also help the chips bed in.

“I’d stress our workers rely on members of the public heeding the temporary traffic lights and other traffic management put in place. Jumping a light, shifting cones and barriers and driving unpredictably could have severe consequences for our workers and others as there is invariably heavy machinery in use.

“We thank the majority of drivers who show great care and appreciation for our crews year in and year out – but sadly each year crews do experience frightening driver behaviour. We’d remind everyone our staff are your neighbours, friends and relatives and are working in situations exposed to traffic, where one mistake could be catastrophic. Please take care, slow down and observe the systems in place to protect our staff who are also members of our community.”

“We’d ask drivers to be mindful our crews might be out in days leading up to works in each area including early mornings to set up and possibly sometimes later than 5pm to finish off a section - so please be prepared to encounter crews on the road right throughout the summer roadworks season.

“We do have a lengthy and ambitious surface dressing programme this year, due to the need to catch on work postponed last summer due to covid, as well the Council’s decision to boost roads maintenance budget this financial year. Works will generally take place between 9am and 5pm, with the possibility of some later works which will be communicated in advance via the Council’s website and social media wherever possible.

“Due to the nature of the works and the limited road widths available, roads will be closed during surface dressing. This is first and foremost for the safety of our staff and the public but will also enable us to undertake the work in a more efficient manner, leaving a higher quality road surface and hopefully leading to lessened disruption overall.

“We have already been carrying out pre-patching over the last month or so, to further minimise the length of time roads are closed. Detours will be signposted and we aim to have those publicised ahead of the works starting on each location, on a rolling basis.”

Anyone who requires emergency access can contact 876338 or speak to the member of staff at the traffic control point.

Any speeding or unauthorised access through the work sites will be reported to Police Scotland, as will any abuse directed towards staff.

An indicative programme of works is available on the Council website These works are weather dependant, so the programme may vary.

Regular updates will be provided throughout the programme via the News section on the Council website, on the Council’s OIC Updates Facebook page and on Twitter @oic_roads, and to local media.

Some public bus services will be impacted – changes to usual published timetables will be publicised ahead of time on a rolling basis, and will be available on the Council website at and at the Kirkwall Travel Centre.

All affected residents and businesses will be written to prior to works starting with further information.

The areas affected over the first week of works are:

  • 20 and/or 21 May: Area 1 Holland Road in Firth – from Redland Road to A966 (Firth to Dounby road). Section will be closed. This is a minor road – a very short detour via Redland and Lyde Roads will be signposted.
  • 21 and/or 24 May: Area 2 Puldrite Road in Rendall – from Gorseness Road to Leuan. Section will be closed. This is a minor road – a short detour via Hinderayre will be signposted.
  • 24 and/or 25 May: Area 3 Arwick Road in Evie - Full length. Section will be closed. This is a dead end minor road.
  • 25 and/or 26 May: Area 4 Georth Road in Evie - Full length. Section will be closed. This is a dead end minor road.
  • 26 and/or 27 May: Area 5 Brough Road in Birsay - Full length. Section will be closed. This is a dead end minor road.
  • 27 and/or 28 May: Area 6 Ravie Hill Road in Birsay - Full length. Section will be closed. This is a dead end minor road.
  • 28 and/or 31: Area 7 Hundland Road in Birsay – Wattle Road to Nisthouse Road. Section will be closed. A detour via Wattle Road and the A966 Birsay to Evie Road will be signposted.

Anyone with issues arising from these road works should contact the Council’s Roads Support Team on 01856873535.

The Council has launched a Respect Our Roadworkers campaign to raise awareness of the risks our road workers face as they go about their work. Some of the statistics are truly shocking - to find out more, visit the campaign press release.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

Translate this website

Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS