Long-awaited timescales for dualling the remaining nine sections of the A9 between Perth and Inverness will be revealed before Christmas.
The SNP government had promised to deliver an “autumn update” on the delayed infrastructure project, which will no longer be completed by 2025.
Campaigners have raised concerns over the looming deadline but we can reveal the timetable is now expected before parliament breaks for Christmas.
The procurement for the dualling of the A9 between Tomatin to Moy in the Highlands is under way. Earlier this year a bid to upgrade the section was rejected over high costs.
‘Believe it when I see it’
The contract is expected to be awarded in early summer 2024 and the project is likely to take until 2026 to build.
The shortlist of contractors for the six-mile stretch were announced on Tuesday. They are: John Graham Construction Ltd, Sacyr UK Ltd and Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd.
Reacting to news the timetable for the A9 will be published next month, Laura Hansler, from the A9 Dual Action Group said she will “believe it when I see it”.
She added: “It will be a relief if it does happen. I don’t trust there will be an announcement to the degree that we need. The trust has been completely eroded.”
‘It’s now the Highlands turn’
Inverness and Nairn SNP MSP Fergus Ewing wants the government to set up an A9 Dualling Programme Board, made up of ministers, MSPs and senior councillors from Highland and Perth and Kinross to meet twice a year to “bring accountability” to the project.
Mr Ewing told the P&J the “broken promises on the A9 and the A96 have eroded the trust and confidence of the Highland people”.
He added: “The rest of Scotland have done well – with Aberdeen getting its peripheral road, the Borders their railway, Fife the New Forth Crossing, Glasgow an excellent motorway system, and Edinburgh in its wisdom chose the trams. It’s now the Highlands turn.”
A9 dualling commitment
Former transport minister Jenny Gilruth revealed last year that the 2025 target to complete the project was “simply no longer achievable” because of economic pressures.
Commenting on the announcement that contractors have been shortlisted for Tomatin to Moy, Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop said it follows a “significant change” to the form of contract used.
This will balance the share of risk between the contractor and Scottish ministers.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We are committed to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness and work is continuing across the route.
“Parliament will be updated on the programme for completing the remaining sections in the coming weeks.
“Over £450m has been spent to date on the dualling of the A9. This includes spend on preparatory work for all of the individual projects, as well as spend on land acquisition, construction of the two projects that have been completed to date, Kincraigto Dalraddy and Luncarty to Pass of Birnam, and advance works for future projects.
“The procurement for the dualling of the A9 between Tomatin to Moy is also underway. Following an extensive market consultation exercise, the new contract uses a different contract form – one that is preferred by contractors and used widely across the UK.
“It is anticipated that this contract will be awarded in early summer 2024 and the project is expected to take around three years to build.”