Dualling the A9 will improve connectivity between the Highlands and Islands and Scotland’s central belt, delivering far reaching benefits to the wider Scottish economy.
It will improve road safety, journey times and journey reliability for millions of road users.
In addition, it will help stimulate economic recovery following the pandemic, mitigate the impacts of Brexit and support businesses, communities and tourism throughout Scotland.
These aren’t our words. They’re part of a statement given by Transport Minister Graeme Dey to mark the opening of the the opening of the 9.5km Luncarty to Pass of Birnam section of the route in August.
And they are a reminder of how much is riding on the completion of the remainder of the 80-mile A9 dualling programme.
Joined by @CWAScotland, Mr Dey explored the 4km of newly constructed cycle and walking routes.
— Transport Scotland (@transcotland) September 29, 2021
A suggestion by former Scottish Government minister Kenny McAskill that delays to the £3 billion upgrade are likely to drag on for many more years will set alarm bells ringing among all those who campaigned so hard for so long for the works to go ahead.
A9 delays can’t all be blamed on Covid
It would take a miracle to achieve the original 2025 timetable for completion, set out in the SNP’s 2007 election manifesto. That much is plain.
The road between Luncarty and Pass of Birnam is open but construction is continuing.
Only one new stretch, between Kincraig and Dalraddy, has been finished. Nine more parts are still just “in preparation”.
Some of the delays to the £3 billion A9 project are due to the Covid pandemic.
That is regrettable but unavoidable.
But Covid cannot be allowed to stand as a smokescreen for further needless delays.
And as concerns mount over the Scottish Government’s commitment to its road-building pledges many will be seeking proof that it intends to be as good as its word on the A9 dualling.