A9 upgrade: Killer road’s £3bn dual upgrade to start early
THE Scottish Government has announced plans to speed up the timetable for the long awaited £3 billion investment to complete the dualling of the A9 – the most dangerous road in Scotland.
• £3 billion programme will begin with a scheme at Kincraig, south of Aviemore
• Campaigners have long called for A9 to be dualled, with 60 deaths since 2007
• Improvements won’t be completed until 2025
More than 60 men, women and children have already been killed on the notorious route between Perth and Inverness since the SNP first announced its manifesto commitment in 2007 to bring the entire 113-mile road up to dual carriageway standard.
Four have been killed in two accidents this month alone.
Some 80 miles of single carriageway still remain on the road linking Scotland’s two newest cities. The A9 has the highest fatality rate of any road in Scotland with an accident somewhere on the route every second day on average.
Alex Neil, the infrastructure and capital investment secretary, visited the Luncarty overbridge, north of Perth on Tuesday, to announce that the Scottish Government is to begin its planned programme of dual carriageway works in 2015 – two years ahead of schedule – with an enhanced scheme on the Kincraig to Dalraddy stretch, south of Aviemore. But campaigners condemned the failure of the Scottish Government to bring forward the 2025 target date for completion of the improvement programme.
Murdo Fraser, the Mid-Scotland and Fife Conservative who has set up a website and petition calling for the A9 to be dualled as soon as possible, said the 2025 completion date would mean that other lives would be needlessly lost on the notorious road.
But he welcomed the advanced start.
He said: “It is right that the Scottish Government presses ahead with shovel-ready sections of the A9 in order to fully dual the carriageway. No one expects the A9 to be dualled overnight but the sooner we start dualling the road, the sooner we will see a road fit for the 21st century.”
He added: “People will be concerned that it is going to be another 13 years before we see the completion of this much needed road improvement programme. If you look at the rate of fatalities and serious accidents on the A9 there is a cost in human lives for every year that goes by that we don’t see this road upgraded. And the reality is that 13 years is going to mean 13 more years of serious accidents and fatalities.
“The SNP pledged in their 2007 manifesto to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness in its entirety. We have already waited five years to get to this stage and we cannot afford to wait another 13. This road is claiming too many lives.
“They should have start sooner and only have themselves to blame for dragging their feet for the last five years.”
Richard Baker, the shadow infrastructure secretary, also criticised the failure to bring forward the completion date.
He claimed: “Alex Neill is simply re-announcing what we already knew. We will still have to wait until 2025 for the A9 to be dualled and, until then, the accidents will continue and the main route between the central belt and the Highlands will remain inadequate and unsafe.
The A9 should be a priority for this government, but, given that we will have to wait 13 years for work to be completed, it sadly remains not to be so.”
But Mr Neil defended the government’s new timetable, which he claimed was set to “revolutionise” the backbone of Scotland’s road network while improving road safety.
He said: “The A9 is the longest trunk road in Scotland and we have always said that delivery by 2025 was challenging but achievable. I’m especially delighted to announce we are advancing the Kincraig-Dalraddy section to full dualling and doing so early. This development of the existing scheme will now provide overtaking opportunities in both directions, breaking up platooning and reducing driver frustration.
“Not only are we adding these safety benefits, we are also getting underway two years earlier than previously expected.”
Mr Neil added: “Dualling each of the existing single carriageway sections represents a major project in its own right. The scale of the combined project is enormous – 16 times the length of the completed M74 and eight times the length of the M80 between Stepps and Haggs.” He added: “Later this year, we will begin a rolling programme of regular local engagement of those who will be affected by the work over the next decade . By 2015, we expect to have begun and, in some cases, completed the statutory processes to start procurement and then construction.
“In the immediate future, and ongoing, we will continue to invest in short and medium-term improvements on the A9 in anticipation of dualling. I have asked the A9 Route Safety Group to investigate and recommend a series of urgent actions to improve safety on the A9 and their first meeting is expected to take place in late July.
Dave Thompson, the MSP for Skye Lochaber and Badenoch, welcomed the announcement. He said: “The cabinet secretary is to be congratulated on this announcement. I am particularly pleased that one of the first developments is to dual the 2+1 overtaking lane between Kincraig and Kingussie.
“Given the statutory processes required the probability of this starting in 2015 is a big boost for Badenoch and Strathspey.
“While folk have the right to consider the implications of the plans
“I hope that there are no objections raised which could delay the start of construction.”
Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said: “The A9 is a massively important arterial route running along Scotland’s spine and giving goods, commuters and visitors access to the many communities along its length.
“Any fatal accident is one too many but the number of accidents and the number of fatalities on the A9 have born tragic witness to the need for this work to be done.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
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