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The Skye crossing : constraints to construction

Macdonald, K. M. K. and Swanson, E. M. (1990) The Skye crossing : constraints to construction. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 16 (1). pp. 70-73. ISSN 0306-7866

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In recent years the debate regarding the construction of a road crossing to the Isle of Skye has been resurrected; the government is now committed to the building of a crossing although the venture, under current proposals, is likely to be financed using both private and public money. If completed, a fixed crossing linking Skye with the mainland will bring substantial time saving benefits to those who make regular journeys using the existing ferry service between Kyle of Lochalsh, on the mainland, with Kyleakin, on the island. The Scottish Office requested prospective tenderers to submit their designs by the end of 1989 and it was their intention to provisionally award the concession by the end of 1990. However, pressure is now being put on central government to consider, on environmental grounds, the construction of a tunnel instead of the road bridge. If this proposal is accepted, the natural beauty of the nearby countryside will be protected from spoiling by the bridge structure. The purpose of this paper, however, is not to consider the arguments for a fixed link; nor is it to consider directly the viability of a tunnel link or that of a bridge. Instead, using standard approaches to investment appraisal, it attempts to estimate the cost constraint faced by the engineers, given certain conditions imposed by government.