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Inverness teenager's tragic A9 road death sparks Highland junction probe

By Alasdair Fraser

Gregor McIntosh.
Gregor McIntosh.

A TEENAGER’S tragic death in a horrific road crash in December has sparked an investigation into the safety of A9 junctions in the Munlochy area.

Gregor McIntosh (16), from Inverness, was killed in a three-car collision while travelling as a passenger at the junction of the B9161 to Munlochy.

The popular “bright spark” Inverness Royal Academy pupil later died as a result of his injuries.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has learned that Transport Scotland, the national transport agency accountable to the Scottish Government, will commission a full study.

It will examine the safety and operation of A9 junctions in the area, including the notorious accident scene.

She welcomed the move but is now pressing for temporary safety measures to be implemented at those junctions while the study is ongoing.

Mrs Grant wrote to transport and infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson following the tragedy after contact from a constituent with suggestions as to how the junction could be improved.

The constituent, who lives near the junction, suggested it had been a source of local concern for some time given that drivers are forced to cross the dual carriageway to exit and join.

Mrs Grant believes the increase in Highland traffic through tourism and continued development and growth have placed increased pressure on roads.

Her constituent suggested that construction of an underpass, similar to that at the North Kessock junction, would improve safety at the location.

Mrs Grant asked Mr Matheson to look at remodelling the junction with immediate effect.

Floral tributes were left at the junction of the A9 and B9161 where popular teenager Gregor McIntosh died. Picture: Gary Anthony
Floral tributes were left at the junction of the A9 and B9161 where popular teenager Gregor McIntosh died. Picture: Gary Anthony

Mrs Grant said: “Transport Scotland say they recognise the concerns this tragedy has raised and will continue to review the safety of the location.

“I’m grateful that they have moved on this and they are to commission a study in the near future to consider junctions on this stretch of road.

“This will include consultation with Highland Council and other stakeholders to understand how development in the surrounding area, and an increase in traffic, may impact on the junctions.

“While the study is welcome, any recommendations coming out of it will take time to implement.

“Temporary safety improvement measures should be installed in the area in the meantime. I will press the cabinet secretary again to introduce temporary measures at the location as a matter of urgency to prevent any other family losing a loved one in this way.”

Personal injury accident data has highlighted two accidents recorded in the vicinity in addition to the tragic accident of December 20.

In her letter to the cabinet secretary, Mrs Grant highlighted a series of junctions on the A9 north of Inverness which she believed were inadequate.

She wants a broader investigation of all the junctions on the A9 north of Inverness to identify where safety measures may be needed.

The MSP had already raised issues with Transport Scotland about improvements to the Tain Asda and Lidl junctions, as well as junctions at Evanton, Alness Point and Invergordon.

Transport Scotland indicated that Evanton, Alness Point and Invergordon would not be subject to further investigation, but would continue to be monitored.

The agency assesses the safety performance of the trunk road network on an annual basis by screening all locations where three or more personal injury accidents have occurred in a three-year period.

Accident clusters, as well as accident rates and patterns, are considered in accident reduction planning.

Mrs Grant added: “I have also been pressing for safety measures to be implemented at the Tain junctions at Aldi and Lidl for some time.

“I’ve been told that the design work necessary to progress a speed limit reduction scheme at these junctions has now commenced, while the installation of the necessary signage will be programmed.

“Consultants are being appointed to carry out an assessment of longer-term options for these junctions and communities will be engaged in the study in due course.

“We need to see the same thing happen at Munlochy until a longer-term option is found.

“I will press the government again to make this happen.”

Related article: Tributes paid to teenager killed in crash at A9 Munlochy junction

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