A96 by-passes for Nairn, Elgin and Keith should be dual carriageway, says transport body HiTrans
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The campaign for a dual carriageway bypass for Nairn is being stepped up as an influential transport body added its voice to growing calls for action.
HiTrans, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and islands, is urging the Scottish Government to swiftly implement the commitments it has made to upgrade the A96 Inverness – Aberdeen road – advocating that proposed bypasses of Nairn, Elgin and Keith, should be dual and not single carriageway.
The board agreed to write to Scottish Transport Secretary Mairi McAllan to seek an early go-ahead for the first phase of committed works on the A96 for dualling between Inverness and Wester Hardmuir, on the eastern outskirts of Nairn, including a bypass of Nairn that should also be dual-carriageway.
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The board also says that later phases of work to build bypasses of Elgin and Keith should replicate the same high standard of dual carriageway as Nairn.
The Inverness Courier launched its Build the Bypass campaign earlier this month to ensure the Inverness to Auldearn section of the A96 is not forgotten by the Scottish Government.
It coincides with new figures showing that the north has the lowest number of dualled roads in the UK – just 0.6 per cent of Moray is dualled and just 1.9 per cent of the Highlands.
The HiTrans call for action on the A96 was raised during a discussion with vice convener Councillor Amber Dunbar, of Moray Council, and Highland councillor Paul Oldham highlighting the case for early action to remove heavy traffic flows that run through and divide key settlements on the busy trunk road.
Cllr Oldham said: "The dualling of the A96 between Inverness and just east of Nairn will be a huge boost for our area, not least in allowing for the growth of our prospering area but also removing congestion in the town.
"We are very hopeful that Nairn is to feature a dual carriageway bypass and our expectation is therefore that Elgin – as the largest settlement on the route between Inverness and Aberdeen – and Keith are afforded the same standard of bypass."
Cllr Dunbar said the commitment to upgrade the A96 in the Bute House Agreement – the power-sharing agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens – was welcome but must now be delivered.
"It would vastly improve the connectivity between towns, tackle congestion in town centres and address safety and environmental concerns," she said.
"I am firmly of the view that the Elgin, Keith and Nairn bypasses will only be fully effective if they are dual carriageway.
"This the only way to ensure the road safety and strategic connectivity benefits of the scheme can be realised."