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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Scots roads dualling key to economic recovery

Highland Council and its partners have highlighted the importance of progressing the plans for dualling of the A9 by 2025 and A96 by 2030.

According to the council, the Highlands’ economic recovery following Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic is “heavily dependent” on connectivity.

The dualling of both roads is also crucial in terms of public safety, with many of the serious road traffic collisions on both roads having been on single carriageway sections which are open to the various road safety issues including risks of dangerous overtaking or confusion.

Highland Council economy and infrastructure committee chair councillor Trish Robertson described both projects as "vital to the Highland economy going forward".

She said: “As a region we rely on road transport for goods and services, and we are deserving of as high a quality infrastructure as central belt Scotland.

"Transport whether current modes or electric vehicles and the movement of large renewable energy plant and replacement fuels will still need safe and appropriate transport routes in and out of the Highlands along these long distances.”

Robertson added that trains can be "unreliable" in winter and with "limited" rail infrastructure, over reliance on this form of transport "would be an impossible and irresponsible proposition".

It comes after the Scottish government gave the go-ahead to further dualling on the A9 in March. An additional 35km of the road is set to be widened in four different locations.

In total, 128km of the road will be made in dual carriageway at a cost of £3bn.

Meanwhile in February, Scottish ministers gave the go ahead for completing of the statutory procedures for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Nairn scheme, which involves delivering around 140km of upgraded road.

Highland Council convener councillor Bill Lobban also emphasised the importance of the schemes.

“The vastly improved connectivity provided by the dualling of the A9 and A96 and substantial improvements of the A82 will ensure the post pandemic economic recovery of the whole Highlands," he said.

“The Highlands are remote from the rest of the country so we need to be better connected. Scaremongering about the effects of additional traffic are totally baseless especially given that by the time the A9 is dualled, sometime next decade, we will be seeing hydrogen powered heavy vehicles and predominately electric cars.”

Hi-Trans chair Allan Henderson added: “Historically, Highland has been provided with little in terms of roads investment, and we’re always told it’s due to finance constraints. We must now ensure these roads are delivered here in Highland and we do not need other barriers being placed be in the way.

"I am all for greening and climate change mitigation, but we can only do that with a level playing field, which includes the continuing dualling of the A9 and A96. We should also not forget the Tarbet to Inverarnan section of the A82 which generally has 192 substandard miles of under-width carriageway.”

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