MSPs have vowed to keep a “close eye” on the A9 in Highland Perthshire after traffic congestion dramatically eased.
On Monday there were calls for roadworks north of Dunkeld to be halted after drivers faced “unacceptable” queues – with some schoolchildren not getting home until 6.30pm.
With rolling traffic lights in place until March 2024 it looked as though A9 road users would face a grim winter of hold-ups.
But there was a significant improvement on Tuesday, with journey times back to normal.
Motorists are now hoping that the previous day’s congestion was just a blip, as Scottish Gas Networks (SGN) began work to install a new gas pipeline.
‘Markedly different’ day after A9 delays
But the Pitlochry attraction breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when the roads suddenly returned to normal.
“Last night was markedly different,” a spokesperson said.
“We’re not sure what they did to fix it, but the delays near the entrance to the Hermitage were at most one minute and traffic flowed easily, in both directions.
“Staff managed to get to work on time, as did our buses.
“Well done to SGN for listening and responding quickly to the situation.”
Has A90 reopening improved the Dunkeld stretch?
One possible reason for the sudden improvement on the road is the reopening of the A90 between Forfar and Brechin.
The thoroughfare remained closed on Monday due to Storm Babet.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser and his SNP counterpart John Swinney both called for SGN to take action in response to delays on the A9 at the beginning of the week.
He said on Tuesday: “I spoke to Transport Scotland about the issue yesterday when they told me they believed that the congestion on the A9 should ease with the re-opening of the A90.
“I had been contacted by several irate constituents on Monday and Tuesday – some of whom had to endure more than three hours’ travelling time to reach their destination.
“The traffic situation does seem to have now improved but we will be keeping a very close eye on it.”
SGN pleased at ‘minimal’ traffic delays
SGN would not specify whether it had made changes to improve traffic flows on the A9.
“We’d like to apologise for the disruption caused to motorists and residents which occurred initially when phase two of our project began on Monday,” a spokesperson said.
“We’re pleased to see that traffic delays are minimal currently.
“The project involves essential upgrade work to ensure a continued safe and reliable gas supply to the local area.
“It is being undertaken by our contractor Morrison Energy Services.
“While there is no ideal time to work in the A9, this project was planned in close consultation with our contractor, BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland to keep disruption levels as low as possible.”