Transport Secretry Mairi McAllan will today update Holyrood on the Scottish Government’s delayed plans to dual the A9 road.
Former transport minister Jenny Gilruth had told MSPs in February this year that work to upgrade the road – which runs from Perth to Inverness – to dual-carriageway in its entirety by the original 2025 completion date was “simply unachievable”.
An update was promised in the autumn, with a statement now being made to Holyrood just before the Christmas recess.
It comes after Deputy First Minister Shona Robison used her budget statement at Holyrood to confirm the next phase of the programme would take place in 2024-25.
This, Ms Robison said, would include the start of work on the Tomatin to Moy stretch of the road, as well as work on necessary land acquisition for other sections.
The statement comes after papers released to Holyrood’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into the dualling programme, revealed ministers were warned two years ago that the work could take until 2034 and cost almost £7.2 billion – more than double the original £3 billion estimate.
A discussion paper dated December 23, 2021 compared using a “traditionally capital-funded approach to completing the final eight of 11 A9 dualling programme stages” with a privately financed, revenue-funded option – most probably one based on the Mutual Investment Model that has been used by the Welsh Government.
According to the paper, the earliest the project would be completed if capital funding was used would be 2034 – almost a decade after the original 2025 deadline – with an estimated total of just over £4.5 billion.
If revenue funding was used, the paper suggested the work could be completed by 2032 – but adopting such an approach could see the total costs amount to just under £7.2 billion.
Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee Convener Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “It is welcome news that the Cabinet Secretary will deliver this long-awaited statement, updating Parliament on the A9 dualling project.
“The Committee remains committed to continuing our inquiry into the A9, on behalf of petitioner Laura Hansler, and we look forward to seeing the detail of the statement before inviting the Cabinet Secretary to give further evidence in the New Year.”
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