A9 dualling by 2025 'unachievable' according to Transport Secretary
Transport Secretary Jenny Gilruth has confirmed the A9 dualling will miss the 2025 deadline set by the Scottish Government.
The development was announced in a statement to Holyrood, where she said the government's commitment to dualling programme remains "absolute."
There was more bad news for the Highlands as she also confirmed that the Tomatin to Moy section of the A9 will faces major delays.
The reason for the delay was a decision by ministers that single bid was "significantly higher" than the £115 million estimate and so "would not represent best value for the taxpayer."
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That is because that section has to be re-tendered due to the high cost of the solitary bid for the project.
Ms Gilruth said: "Members will know that the original completion date for the dualling of the A9 was scheduled to be 2025 and as MSPs will now understand that timescale is simply no longer achievable
"I will set out a revised timescale as soon as possible seeking to minimise delay as far as possible. And it's true that the target day originally set was always an ambitious challenge.
"It also relied on the timely and positive outcome of a range of factors. For example, completing public and stakeholder consultation, statutory approval processes, market capacity, supply chain availability and, of course, availability of funding.
"All of which have been significantly impacted by the events I outlined earlier [Brexit disruption, war in Ukraine, inflation] that has made the 2025 deadline simply unachievable."
On the issue of Tomatin to Moy, Mr Gilruth revealed that only one bid was submitted and it was much higher than expected.
"I turn now to the procurement of the Tomatin to Moy project," she said. "Back into December 2021 three bidders were invited to participate in a procurement exercise with final tenders required to be submitted by October of last year.
"This coincided with external factors, including the pandemic, disruption caused by Brexit and the war in Ukraine, with the inflationary impacts, all of those impacting significantly on the construction market.
"Now, unfortunately, the final return yielded only one tender submission. You will note the anticipated cost of the construction contract was £115 million at the time.
"Following careful consideration of the tender – the price of which was significantly higher than expected and even allowing for the real-world impacts of the volatile economy – Ministers have concluded that award of the contract at this time would not represent best value for the taxpayer at any time but particularly in the current climate when protecting public finances is an essential part of responsible government."
She added: "But I do want to make very clear our firm intention to retender for Tomatin to Moy with some urgency."