Pressure on Scottish Government to turn A9 into dual carriageway

12 people have died on the route between Inverness and Perth in recent months.

Scottish Government under pressure to turn the A9 Inverness-Perth road into dual carriageway STV News

Pressure has intensified on the Scottish Government to speed up turning the A9 into a dual carriageway.

Twelve people have died in crashes on the route between Inverness and Perth in recent months.

Conservative MSPs have argued in a Holyrood debate that dualling it would save lives and boost the local economy.

A horrific smash at Slochd, south of Inverness, in July claimed the lives of a couple in their 60s and their two-year-old grandson.

It was the first of seven fatal collisions in four months on the southern half of the A9, linking the Highland capital with Perth.

Most of the accidents happened on a 25-mile stretch between Newtonmore and the Slochd summit.

Eight designated stretches of the route are still to be upgraded to dual carriageway, 13 years after the Scottish Government made a pledge to dual the Inverness-Perth section.

That ambition, and that of dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen, was raised in the Holyrood chamber on Wednesday afternoon.

Leading the debate, Conservative MSPs warned that the death toll would rise unless SNP ministers stopped “pandering” to their Green Party partners.

Central Scotland Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: “It’s almost as though (transport minister) Jenny Gilruth has to ask permission from (Green Party MSP) Maggie Chapman to do anything.

“You can imagine the conversation,” he said. “‘Please Maggie, can I dual the road? No minister, no, don’t you remember… it’s not viable’.

“We really are in a bad place if we’re to base our roads improvement programme on the views of Maggie Chapman.”

Transport minister Gilruth said a single death on Scotland’s roads was “one too many”.

She said: “This government remains absolutely committed to investment in the A9 including dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness.

“We have already invested significant finance in this – approximately £431m to date – delivering the dualling programme.

“That’s allowed road users to benefit from the dualled stretches between Kincraig and Dalraddy, and Luncarty and Pass of Birnam which opened in 2017 and in August 2021, respectively.”

She said the investment had “also supported the development, progress through the statutory processes, advanced work and procurement valuation work being undertaken for the remainder of the programme.”.

The transport minister said she would chair the next A9 safety group meeting in Pitlochry on Friday.

She added that she would imminently announce “short-term measures” for the A9 between Inverness and Perth, in advance of further dualling works.

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