A road branded "Scotland’s deadliest" is to be upgraded to dual carriageway in a £3bn programme.
The A9, the main route to the Highlands, has been the subject of dualling calls for years after scores of fatal incidents were attributed to its dangerous switches between stretches of dual carriageway and A-class road.
The Scottish Government has announced that 80 miles of the road between Perth and Inverness will finally be upgraded in one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects in recent years.
The £3bn programme will begin with a scheme at Kincraig, south of Aviemore, on the A9.
Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, said: "The A9 is the longest trunk road in Scotland and we have always said that delivery by 2025 was challenging but achievable. To put the sheer scale of the project in perspective - it is 16 times the length of the recently completed M74 and eight times the length of the M80 between Stepps and Haggs.
"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 additional safety benefits, we are also getting underway two years earlier than previously expected.
"Dualling each of these seven existing single carriageway sections represents a major project in it's own right. Each requires in-depth planning and design to ensure that we deliver the right scheme at the right price and each needs to keep impacts on communities, businesses and the environment to an absolute minimum.”
In the last month, the road has claimed the lives of four motorists.
Two lorry drivers died in a head on collision on the road on June 1. Alexander Russell, 37, from Glasgow, and John Sommerville, 34, from Carluke, were killed in the early hours of the morning at Dalnamein. Their lorries had been carrying barrels of alcohol and newspapers.
On June 8, another two men were killed after their van collided with a bus carrying concert-goers to RockNess. Mark McFarlane, 38, and Barry Murray, 28, were driving at Ralia, near Newtonmore, when they crashed. The painter and decorators died at the scene. The female bus driver had to be airlifted to hospital but recovered from her injuries.
Figures obtained by an MSP earlier in June showed that 67 people had been killed on the 110-mile stretch since 2006, making it the deadliest road in Scotland.
Mid Scotland and Fife representative Murdo Fraser also learned that the road saw an average of 200 collisions every year - or 1026 incidents between 2006 and 2010.
Mr Fraser said: "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. We now need to have the ambition to bring forward the completion date, as 2025 is too long to wait.
"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 years for completion as this road is claiming too many lives every year."
STV has created an interactive map showing the exact sections of the road which are to be upgraded.
The sections marked in red are the stretches which will be upgraded to dual carriageway; the sections in blue are the parts of the A9 which are already dual carriageway.
View A9 upgrade map in a larger map
- A9 is ‘Scotland’s deadliest road’ as 67 lives lost in five years
- Two men who died in A9 collision between van and bus named
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