New deadline

A9 dualling project delayed by 10 years until 2035

A9 dualling
Only 11 miles have been completed

Dualling the A9 between Inverness and Perth has been delayed by 10 years until 2035, the Scottish Transport Secretary has admitted.

Mairi McAllan said a new rolling programme of improvements was “achievable” and there would be “no let up” in the work.

Some of the construction work will involve private investment using a Mutual Investment Model developed by the Welsh government.

Ms McAllan said the total cost was estimated at £3.7bn at April 2023 prices, which she said was the equivalent of £2.45bn at April 2008 prices. She said this was well within the original cost estimate of £3bn in 2008.

“Under this new plan, by the end of 2030 we anticipate that nearly 50% of the A9 will be open as dual-carriageway, rising to 85% by the end of 2033 and eventually 100% by the end of 2035,” she said.

Two sections of single carriageway totalling 11 miles (18km) of road have been upgraded over the past decade – but 77 miles of the route has still to be dualled.

Opposition MSPs said the SNP had made a commitment in 2007 to complete the work by 2025 and in June, a trade body said civil engineers in Scotland knew “for many years” that the promise to dual the A9 road by that date would not be met.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said communities in Perth and Kinross and the Highlands had already waited too long for improvements to the road.

He added: “Throughout that period, too many lives have needlessly been lost and more will die as a result of the delays we have heard about today.

“At best we will be waiting another 12 years for this project to be completed, and that is the most optimistic outcome we can hope for.”

Labour’s transport spokesman Alex Rowley said: “With the new date of 2035 for completion between Perth and Inverness, some 28 years after the initial promise, one has to wonder how on earth can the Cabinet Secretary say with a straight face that the Highlands can have confidence?”

In a statement, he added: “This is a shameful betrayal of the communities that have been given assurances over dualling for years from this government.

“This news will be a hammer-blow to businesses and communities and means that safety concerns will persist for over another decade.

“This new date is some 28 years after the SNP first promised the dualling – no wonder public confidence has collapsed. The people of Scotland should not pay the price of SNP-Green incompetence.”

SNP backbencher Fergus Ewing, who has been a vocal critic of the Scottish government’s failure to meet its original targets for dualling the road, said he would continue to remain sceptical until he sees diggers on the road.

Latest completion dates for the remaining sections:

  • Tomatin to Moy – by the end of 2027
  • Tay Crossing to Ballinluig – by the end of 2028
  • Pitlochry to Killiecrankie – by the end of 2030
  • Pass of Birnam to Tay Crossing – by the end of 2032
  • A9 North (Crubenmore to Kincraig and Dalraddy to Slochd) – by end of 2033, at the earliest
  • A9 Central (Killiecrankie to Glen Garry, Glen Garry to Dalwhinnie and Dalwhinne to Crubenmore) – by end of 2035, at the earliest

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