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Road safety campaigners welcome First Minister's encouraging words on A9 dualling

By Gavin Musgrove

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First Minister Humza Yousaf said the A9 dualling remains a top priority for the Scottish Government on a visit to the region earlier this week. Picture: Callum Mackay.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said the A9 dualling remains a top priority for the Scottish Government on a visit to the region earlier this week. Picture: Callum Mackay.

A9 safety campaigners in the Highlands have welcomed the First Minister making ‘all the right noises’ after he said progress on dualling the danger road would be made in the near future.

Humza Yousaf admitted it ‘would be unforgivable to go another one, two or three years’ without progress on the A9 dualling project.

Mr Yousaf also said the government would be ‘absolutely happy’ to look at each suggestion drawn up by Inverness Courier owners Highland News & Media after the A9 Crisis Summit in Inverness.

The First Minister was briefed by Transport Secretary Màiri McAllan following last week’s gathering at the city’s Eden Court Theatre– something Mr Yousaf described as positive while visiting the Highland capital on Tuesday.

Kincraig-based Laura Hansler, of the A9 Dual Action Group, has welcomed his assurances.

She said: “First of all, I’m both surprised and happy that the First Minister seems to have taken time to watch the summit and obviously be briefed by Mairi McAllan.

“He has clearly heard my determination that Transport Scotland must without delay allow the A9 to come under special designation to allow these speed limiter signs to be installed.

“Previously they had used this as an excuse to not instal this crucial signage, but part of this must – absolutely must include removal of – or revised signage for the HGV trial signs.”

She said these signs cause ‘so much confusion and the slamming on of brakes with car drivers who automatically read road signs’.

Ms Hansler continued: “Hopefully this is all a very positive step forward.

“Mr Yousaf is making all the right noises but we are still to see what this golden carrot of a date in Autumn reveals.

“Action is critical now and I will continue to represent users of the A9 until we see satisfactory tangible progress.”

Highland Council convener and local councillor Bill Lobban (Independent), who delivered his own blunt message to the Transport Secretary at the summit, said: “It’s reassuring to hear the First Minister publicly confirm his commitment to dualling the A9 but actions speak louder than words.

“We need to see a firm but realistic timescale for the completion of the entire project with interim, deliverable goals for specific sections.

“In the meantime we urgently need to see the improved safety measures implemented without further delay and procrastination otherwise the carnage will continue.”

Fellow Badenoch and Strathspey councillor Muriel Cockburn (SNP) said: “Safety is paramount and I am pleased there is a commitment looking at improving the current signage and visual aids at junctions.

“Many accidents are caused by driver error and we must look at education and driving awareness for example via digital platforms.

“It is also important that we have regular updates regarding progress with tendering and associated timeframes.”

Related articles:

First Minister says no progress on A9 dualling would be 'unforgivable'

'Momentary loss of concentration' caused fatal crash on the A9 by Kingussie

The First Minister said in an exclusive interview with HNM that he is determined to make good his promise issued at the SNP hustings and also at HNM’s Leadership Debate in March when he said he would deliver the A9 dualling.

It came a month after the government declared the promise to complete dualling of the Inverness-Perth section by 2025 was unachievable.

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