MSP cautiously welcomes new A9 Dualling plans

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said she is “not too confident” that the latest plans and timescales for the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness will be met but she is hoping we now get some progress on the dualling which was promised so long ago.

The MSP was speaking after the stakeholder briefing in Inverness this morning which was attended by campaigners, business leaders, Police Scotland and elected members who were advised of the latest timescales and plans for completion of the road. She said it was good to see the timeframes in place but stressed that much of the actual construction work will not be carried out until the end of the project and MSPs need to keep the pressure on the Scottish Government until then to ensure timeframes don’t slip again.

Mrs Grant asked what would happen when an anticipated seven stretches of the road will be under construction concurrently and what will happen during periods of winter weather to ensure the traffic still flows.

A Transport Scotland official advised that the intention is to have one lane on each carriageway open where at all possible and when not possible, traffic management will be in place. In terms of ensuring the road stays open during periods of winter conditions, the MSP was advised that the appointed contractor will have responsibility to ensure gritting and snow clearance takes place to allow the flow of traffic to continue.

Commenting afterwards, Mrs Grant said “Like everyone else in the room this morning, I had a fear that these timescales and promises could slip again. It is however my job, and that of every elected politician in the Highlands to ensure timescales do not slip and to seek regular assurances from the Scottish Government that all is on time.

“People in the Highlands and Islands are angry and let down by the Scottish Government and there is, very understandably, trepidation about the plans going forward.

“The Cabinet Secretary Designate, Fiona Hyslop, said the A9 is the transport backbone of Scotland and we need to get the promised work done to improve safety and journey times.

Mrs Grant concluded “I welcomed a question from the floor seeking a commitment to improve the A9 north of Inverness too and while no commitment was offered on this, it does no harm to remind Ministers that the A9 goes right the way to the top of the Scottish mainland and this should be on their agenda going forward too.”