A9 dualling: Next section from Tomatin to Moy not complete until 2027
Dualling the next section of the A9 between Inverness and Perth will take until 2027 to complete, transport secretary Màiri McAllan has revealed.
She announced a second attempt to upgrade the six-mile section between Tomatin and Moy, south of Inverness, with construction expected to start next summer and take three years.
The timescale comes in stark contrast to the Scottish Government’s now abandoned long-standing pledge to complete dualling of the road between the two cities by 2025. Some 70 miles remain to be widened to two lanes in each direction.
The launch of a new procurement process for the Tomatin stretch comes after ministers scrapped the original process in February after the sole bid was rejected as not being value for money. It is also now expected to cost £150 million compared to the previous £115m-£125m estimate.
Transport Scotland said it would involve a new contract designed to attract more bidders to the competition after fierce criticism from the industry about having to shoulder the risk involved.
Ms McAllan said: “I know that today’s announcement will be a welcome update for communities and businesses across the A9 corridor. Progression of the A9 dualling programme continues to be a priority for this Government and today’s announcement underlines our commitment to one of the largest, most complex infrastructure programmes in Scotland’s history.
"Road safety is of paramount importance to both myself and this Government, and I understand how vital dualling the A9 is to the communities and businesses that rely on the A9 each day. Today’s announcement is another positive step towards full dualling and I can assure you that my officials and I continue to work urgently to progress the remainder of this critical programme.”
She said the next section “also allows us to set new aspirations for carbon reduction in construction whilst creating employment and training opportunities that benefit the communities surrounding this project”.
Transport Scotland said the new contract had been a “complex process”. It said: “It was necessary to take the time to get the new terms and conditions right, both to listen to the market, maximising market interest in the new procurement and to ensure the new terms and conditions are robust and do not lead to unintended consequences affecting value for Scottish taxpayers.”
It said the new contract was in a form that was “preferred by the industry and used widely across the UK, as well as a more balanced approach to the sharing of risk between ministers and the contractor”. It described that as a “significant change in the way that Transport Scotland contracts its major infrastructure projects”.
Grahame Barn, managing director of the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association, in a comment supplied by Transport Scotland, said the new contract was a “welcome change” that “seeks to address many of the concerns previously expressed by industry
"I am confident that with this change, contractors will view the Tomatin to Moy dualling as being attractive to bid,” he said.
Transport Scotland said work to find the best procurement option was expected to be concluded this autumn.
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