Tha Murray MacLeòid a’ foighneachd – an tig an A9 a chrìochnachadh a-chaoidh?

Mar a bhios fios aig gu leòr ‘s e an A9 am prìomh rathad a bhios a’ ceangal ceann a tuath na h-Alba ris na bailtean mòra – còrr air 200 mìle a bhios a’ dol bho thaobh ear na Gàidhealtachd, sìos seachad Inbhir Nis, gu beanntan a’ Chàrn-ghuirm agus mu dheireadh tro achaidhean torach Siorrachd Pheairt. Farsaingeachd tìr na h-Alba ann an aon turas.

Tha camaran air an A9 a dheànamh nas sabhailte ach tha feumar cumail a’ dol le bhith ga dheànamh dà-fhillte

[English-language version below]

Tha an rathad cudomach bho thaobh na h-eaconamaigh ‘s airson adhbharan sòisealta agus cha mhòr g’ eil parsail a tha a' tighinn gu tuath nach robh air a bhith air an rathad sin ann an cùl làraidh air choireigin aig àm air choireigin.

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Cudromach ‘s gu bheil e, ‘s ann a tha e nas ainmeile airson a bhith cunnartach. Tha iomadach duine air am beatha a chall air an rathad seo agus chan eil duine a tha air a bhith air tric nach fhaca rudeigin eagallach far an do theab tubaist a bhith ann.

Tha a’ chuid mhòr dheth fhathast aon-fhillte, le corra àite far a bheil e dà-fhillte, a’ toirt a' chothroim dha draibhearan faighinn seachad air làraidhean. Ach, tha sin a’ ciallachadh, nuair a gheibh iad an cothrom, tha iad a’ cur a’ bhroig sìos agus chan eil ann ach an dearg chunnart.

A dh’innse na fìrinn, tha cùisean nas fheàrr an-diugh. Tha camaran airson sùil a chumail air astar a’ ciallachadh nach eil an uimhir a’ dol às an ciall agus gheibh na làraidhean a-nis air siubhal aig 50 mìle san uair seach 40, ‘s chan eil daoine cho mì-fhoighidneach airson faighinn seachad.

Tha e fhathast na amas an A9 bho Pheairt gu Inbhir Nis a dheànamh dà-fhillte agus leis gur e rathad trang a tha seo, a’ ceangal an tuath ris an deas, ’s e tha airidh air agus bu chòir dha bhith air tachairt fada ron a seo.

Thèid an treas pàirt de chùmhnant luach £3 billean a thoirt seachad an ath bhliadhna airson slighe dà-fhillte eile a dheànamh beagan gu deas air Inbhir Nis, ach fiù ‘s aig a sin, bidh a’ mhòr, mhòr chuid fhathast aon-fhillte.

Agus dè an uair sin? ‘S e pròiseact fad bhliadhnachan a bha gu bhith an seo bho thùs, dh’fheumar a dheànamh pios an suid is an seo, ach bha a h-uile coltas ann gun robh Riaghaltas na h-Alba gu mòr air a chùlaibh.

No bha co-dhiù. Tha ceistean mòra ann a-nis an tig an obair airson rathad dà-fhillte a chrìochnachadh a-chaoidh agus cuid aig cridhe an Riaghaltais a-nis a tha ann am prionnsabal an aghaidh a bhith a’ togail rathaidean ùra – sin Patrick Harvie agus Lorna Slater bho na h-Uainich.

‘S dòcha nach bi àite mòr sam bith aca anns a’ cho-bhanndachd seo – dìreach ann airson mòr-chuid a shealltainn dha neo-eisimileach agus taic a chur ris a’ bhuidseid – ach tha fhios nach ann mar sin a bhios iad fhèin ga fhaicinn agus bidh iad gu math mothachail air dè thachair dhan phàrtaidh phoileataigeach mu dheireadh a thrèig an cuid phrionnsabalan ann an co-bhanntachd. Cha d’ fhuair na Lib Demaich a-riamh seachad air.

Tha e tràth fhathast, ach tha iomadach gnothach poileataigeach air am feum iad tighinn gu aonta ‘s gun coltas aonta ann – fàs an eaconamaidh, ola a’ Chuain a Tuath, siubhal air plèanaichean, obair thuathanais agus, dhà-rìribh, am bu chòir casg a chur air togail rathaidean agus an t-airgead a chur a dh’àiteigin eile.

Tha baidhsagalan is càraichean-dealain glè mhath sa bhaile mhòr, ach cha bhithinn gan iarraidh air an Druim Uachdair ann an trì troighean de shneachd.

Tha cus ghnìomhachasan is daoine an urra ris an A9 airson an adhartais a sgur.

Ach, seo an cunnart ùr; seo an cunnart uaine.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

The A9 is the main arterial route that connects the north of Scotland to the Central Belt – a 200-mile stretch that takes you from the lush pastures of Perthshire, though the foothills of the Cairngorms, to the coastal plains of Inverness and the eastern Highland seaboard beyond. Scotland’s diverse topography is captured in one single journey.

It is a vital social and economic link and there is scarcely a parcel or commercial commodity that ends up in the Highlands and Islands that hasn’t at some point, or in some incarnation, been transported on that road in the back of a lorry.

Its importance is only overshadowed by its infamy. The vast majority is still single-lane and interspersed by small stretches of dual-carriageway which allow drivers the opportunity to overtake slower vehicles. The result: wacky races and mayhem as everyone dives headlong to get in front of the traffic before the next stretch of single-lane.

Over the years, this road has claimed countless lives and there is no-one who is a regular user who hasn’t experienced their own near-miss and frightening encounter.

In fairness, there have been improvements. Average speed cameras all along the route have curbed reckless behaviour and allowing HGVs to go up to 50 miles per hour from 40 has done much to ease driver frustration. It is now, as a result, a much more relaxed, safer journey.

It remains the long-term aim to have the A9 all the way from Perth to Inverness a dual-carriageway and considering this is an important thoroughfare through the spine of Scotland with a heavy traffic load, it is entirely justifiable and should have happened long ago.

The third section of a £3 billion project will be awarded next year for a stretch just south of Inverness, but even when that’s complete the vast majority will still be single-lane.

And then what? Dualling was always a long-term project, required to be done incrementally on a priority basis, but the SNP government’s commitment appeared resolute.

Or at least it did. There are now serious questions over whether the A9 dualling will ever be completed or even extended beyond the current contract with some in the heart of government now who are unapologetically and ideologically opposed to the building of new roads – namely Patrick Harvie and Lorna Salter.

It may be that their involvement in the coalition will be very much as junior partners, there simply to achieve an independence majority and to get the budget over the line, but it’s doubtful they themselves will see it that way and they will be well aware of what happened to the last political party that sacrificed their ideologies in coalition. The Lib Dems have scarcely been relevant since they were in the UK government with the Conservatives.

It is early days, but the SNP-Green concord faces pressures on many fronts – economic growth, offshore extraction, aviation, agriculture and, indeed, whether the building of new roads should cease, with investment diverted elsewhere.

Bicycles and electric cars are all very well in a city environment, but in three-foot of snow on the Drumochter Pass, not so clever.

There are too many businesses and too many people reliant on the A9 for recent progress to now grind to a halt. But that's the very real prospect under what might be termed the Green danger.

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