A9 Dualling (Progress)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 17th March 2016.

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Photo of Mike MacKenzie Mike MacKenzie Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made with the dualling of the A9. (S4O-05679)

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

Construction of the A9 dualling began between Kincraig to Dalraddy in September 2015. The first section is expected to be completed by the summer of next year.

The remaining dualling is on course to meet the Scottish Government’s target of being completed by 2025. The design of remaining projects is progressing well, with one quarter of the preferred routes announced last week and the rest anticipated during 2016 and into early 2017. Exhibitions are currently taking place at which the route options are being displayed to the public for comment.

Photo of Mike MacKenzie Mike MacKenzie Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary agree with me that as well as creating and retaining jobs during the construction phases, the dualling of the A9 will provide a long-term stimulus to the economy of the Highlands and Islands and improve safety for motorists?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

Mike MacKenzie is absolutely right that the construction will have benefits for employment and that dualling will have longer-term benefits in relation to increased productivity and a more efficient transport system. The A9 plays a vital role in supporting the economy not just of the Highlands and Islands but of Scotland, with an estimated £19 billion-worth of goods being transported annually on it.

The journey time and reliability benefits that are associated with the dualling programme will reduce transport costs for businesses. Dualling will also improve connectivity between the Highlands and the central belt, and provide opportunities for the key business sectors, including tourism.

The upgrading of the road itself will also reduce driver stress and frustration and lead to improved safety for the 12 million vehicles per year that travel between Perth and Inverness. I am pleased that the current Scottish Government made the first commitment to dual the A9 and the A96, which will mean that for the first time, all Scotland’s cities are connected by at least a dual carriageway or a motorway.