Transport Scotland is undertaking one of the country’s largest transport infrastructure projects by upgrading 80 miles of the A9 between Perth and Inverness to dual carriageway.
The project has been designed to deliver economic growth through improved road safety, more reliable and faster journey times as well as better links to pedestrian, cycling and public transport facilities.
The budget is £3 billion and the work is due to be completed in 2025, but delays could have a detrimental impact to many businesses and road users the project was designed to beneﬁt.
From the information on Transport Scotland’s website only one of the 11 sections has been completed (between Kincraig and Dalraddy) and only one other is currently under construction (between Luncarty and Pass of Birnam) so completing the project in 2025 is now looking optimistic.
Each section has around a three-year construction timescale so in order to meet the deadline all remaining projects would need to start by the end of 2022. With nine projects to complete covering around 70 miles this could mean signiﬁcant disruption for road users, particularly as the construction timescale means all nine projects would overlap.
At the peak construction period road users would be faced with travelling at 40mph through the road works for about two-thirds of the distance between Perth and Inverness. That would add more than 30 minutes to a car journey, increasing the current journey time by more than 30%.
Increased journey times will increase costs for businesses and other road users as well as impacting the tourist trade. Many business already face tough trading times through Covid19 restrictions, so a major infrastructure project adding to their costs is the last thing they need, although the completed project should ultimately be beneﬁcial to them.
Extending the duration of the project beyond 2025 won’t be welcomed by many road users looking forward to the completed dual carriageway but that may be a better option than the delays and extra costs of working simultaneously on multiple sections.