– in the Scottish Parliament on 26th January 2023.
The Scottish Government continues to invest in the safe and efficient operation of the A77. Planned improvements for 2023 include slope stability works at Glengall, the upgrade of a number of existing lay-bys, upgrades of the Whitletts and Dutch House roundabouts and improvements to existing drainage at Cairnyan.
Since 2007, the Scottish Government has invested approximately £64 million in five separate road schemes on the A77, including the recent completion of the £29 million Maybole bypass, which opened in January 2022.
The A70 is a local authority road.
The A77 is a vital trade link between the central belt, Ayrshire and Northern Ireland, and the A70 could become a strategic link into the heart of Rabbie Burns’s homeland in Ayrshire. They are very important roads for local people, trade and tourism. The lack of good public transport links means that people rely on the A70 and the A77, but the roads are crumbling and they are a major safety concern, especially on dark winter nights.
Will the Scottish National Party focus on improving those vital roads, or has its coalition deal with the Greens stopped any chance of extra investment in the roads in Ayrshire?
I very much understand the sentiment of Ms Dowey’s question. We have invested, particularly in the A77, and I will detail some of the spend in relation to maintenance thus far.
I recognise the challenges that Ms Dowey has outlined in relation to connectivity and public transport. Those challenges exist across Scotland currently, which is why I am focused on how we can better improve delivery of the modal shift from car to rail and bus. One of the ways in which we can do that is through our very generous concessionary bus travel scheme, which means that almost half of the population of Scotland can travel free by bus.
On the specifics of Ms Dowey’s question in relation to the A77, recommendation 40 of strategic transport projects review 2, which was published in December last year, includes improvements on the A77. The cabinet secretary will deliver a statement to that end later today.
On the maintenance spend, in 2022-23, investment has continued. So far this year, £9 million has been spent specifically on the A77. This year alone, the following schemes have been completed: the north end of the Kilmarnock bypass has been resurfaced; the A77 to the B7038 Coodham interchange has been resurfaced; and we have done resurfacing at Dutch House, as I mentioned—
I will not go through the further detail—I think that Ms Dowey has asked me a written parliamentary question on the matter. However, I hope that that reassures her about the level of Government investment in the routes that she has asked about.
The Maybole bypass on the A77, which opened in February last year, represented £29 million of Scottish Government investment and was described as “a dream come true” by those who campaigned for it. Does the Scottish Government have any data on, or means of assessing, the difference that the project has made to the experience of road users?
I recall opening the Maybole bypass at this time last year, and I know how significantly transformative the project has already been for the local community. Transport Scotland is planning to undertake an evaluation of the bypass this year. We will look at data collection from the spring, which will be in line with the Scottish trunk road infrastructure project evaluation, which is hugely important. It will look at the scheme’s objectives, its operation and the environment. The completed evaluation will be published on Transport Scotland’s website, and a further evaluation will be undertaken three years after the scheme’s opening.