A9 dualling delayed by ten years as new plans revealed

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition, Mairi McAllan, has announced that dualling works for the remaining single carriageway sections of the A9 between Perth and Inverness should be completed by the end of 2035.

The road was meant to be completed by 2025, but that was deemed “unachievable” last February.

The delivery plan involves a rolling programme of construction with dualled sections opened progressively. Nearly 50% of the road is expected to be dualled by the end of 2030, rising to 85% by the end of 2033, with the final section expected to open by the end of 2035.

The Scottish Government has adopted a “hybrid” approach to delivering the programme, progressing the three remaining southern projects as individual capital-funded design and build contracts, with the remaining projects in the north and central sections delivered via two resource-funded Mutual Investment Model (MIM) contracts, subject to ongoing due diligence and further decision making in late 2025, including an updated assessment of market conditions.

Work will begin immediately on preparations for procurement of the first of the three design and build contracts, for the Tay Crossing to Ballinluig project. Publication of the contract notice is planned for Spring 2024, with contract award expected in Summer 2025.

The Cabinet Secretary also confirmed that the preferred option for the Pass of Birnam to Tay Crossing project will include a number of elements of the community’s preferred option, including a roundabout at Dunkeld and junction layouts at The Hermitage and Dalguise. More detailed information on the preferred route option for this section is available on the Transport Scotland website and local communities and road users will have the chance to see and comment on plans at public exhibitions planned in January.

Ms McAllan said: “I am aware that today’s announcement has been keenly anticipated by many, especially those concerned to see safety benefits secured on the route and by the many Scottish communities and businesses for whom the A9 is essential. This programme has faced challenges and I acknowledge that it has not progressed at the pace we would have liked. However, the A9 is the backbone of Scotland. It must be safe, reliable and resilient as possible – and that’s what the Scottish Government will deliver.

“The approach that I outlined today foregrounds certainty of delivery carefully balanced with factors such as industry capacity to deliver, the need to minimise disruption to road users and wider financial constraints.

“This Government is restating its commitment to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness – with a concrete plan. The approach I have set out means that the Highlands can have confidence that the considerable benefits of A9 Dualling will be delivered in full.

“Now we have reached this point, there will be no let up. When construction starts on Tomatin to Moy next year, under this delivery programme, it should roll continually until the route between Perth and Inverness is fully dualled.”

Transport Scotland has prepared updated total scheme cost estimates for each project. The total cost of the programme is now estimated at £3.7bn at April 2023 prices. It adds that, when adjusted for inflation, that is equivalent to £2.45bn at April 2008 prices, which is well within the original cost estimate of £3bn at 2008 prices.

(Picture – Transport Scotland)

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