Transport secretary committed to dualling A96 but cannot give start date

The road has been the subject of safety concerns and 11 people have been killed in the last four years.

Scottish transport secretary still committed to dualling A96 but cannot give start date PA Media

Transport secretary FIona Hylsop refused to say when work to dual a key road in the north of Scotland could be carried out, as she told MSPs the budget for capital infrastructure projects was “in a very difficult position”.

Hyslop insisted the Scottish Government “remain committed” to dualling the A96 road, which runs between Inverness and Aberdeen.

She told MSPs at Holyrood she is “acutely aware of the importance of the route” and stated: “Our current plans are to fully dual the route.”

But Tory MSP Liam Kerr said: “In 2011, the SNP promised the A96 would be dualled in fully 2030. No ifs, not buts.”

Liam Kerr raised concerns about safety on the A96.PA Media

He raised the issue with Ms Hyslop after a crash earlier this month killed two people.

Chris Haycock, 53, and Helen Booth, 51, died after the Tesla car they were in was involved in a three-vehicle crash on Monday, February 12 on the A96 at Redhill, near Inverness.

Kerr told MSPs: “Eleven people have been killed and 69 seriously injured on the A96 in the last four years, with two more tragically lost just last week.”

Hyslop expressed her condolences to the families of Haycock and Booth as she accused the UK Government of failing to invest in infrastructure.

“We have a UK Government that has not invested in infrastructure, has cut infrastructure,” she stated.

“That puts capital infrastructure, whether it is in the central belt, whether it is in the north of Scotland, whether it is in the Highlands or the north east, in a very difficult position.”

But Mr Kerr, a north east of Scotland MSP, said the road had been “neglected by the SNP for years, risking the safety of motorists, hampering our emergency services and putting off potential investors in our economy”

He said: “Fiona Hyslop’s pitiful refusal to admit that the 2030 completion date won’t be met is all too typical of the veil of secrecy which has clouded the SNP’s despicable handling of the A96 dualling.

“As we have seen recently, lives are tragically being lost and families are being torn apart by the dangers of this road which, in its present state, is not fit for purpose.

“More than a decade since the SNP made the dualling promise, communities across the north and north east are still in the dark on if this vital upgrade will ever happen.”

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