Analysis: Lives and the economy will be protected – if promise is kept
THERE is a myth that the A9 is a killer. Without making light of the appalling personal tragedies associated with each fatality on this route, the statistics actually say that – when casualties are seen in proportion to the amount of traffic – there are many other roads in Scotland where the chance of death or injury is much greater per mile travelled.
Stretches of the A833, A819, A81 and A82, for example, all pose bigger dangers to the Scottish motorist.
But what makes the A9 stand out is its strategic importance and the volume of traffic it carries. Accidents on its 113-mile length are invariably not only disasters on a human level but also create severe economic impacts in terms of congestion and delay.
Yesterday’s announcement is not just about preserving life but also protecting the Scottish economy, not least that which exists far north of the central belt and which has some right to feel alienated from the rest of the country.
This enhancement of the A9 goes some way to addressing that issue. And when it comes to spending scarce public money there are few better ways of doing it than on road projects, especially when they deliver so many diverse benefits.
There will be many south of the border envious of this decision to bring such an important project forward. The Scottish Government came up with an infrastructure plan and they seem prepared to deliver it.
Failure to do so would have ignored the big changes Scotland faces in future: growing population and rapidly rising traffic volumes.
Making a promise on this scale is one thing, keeping it is another. We will be watching closely how they progress.
• Professor Glaister is director of the RAC Foundation
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