The hopes of north-east campaigners were raised yesterday after the transport secretary confirmed improvements to a notorious road would be included in a new review.
Activists have long called for the A90 Aberdeen to Peterhead road beyond Ellon to be converted into a dual carriageway.
They also want the recently-opened AWPR to be connected to this stretch of the route, which has been widely regarded as a dangerous section of the network with vehicles regularly crashing at the Toll of Birness junction to Fraserburgh.
Official figures released last year showed how hazardous the route is with 63 collisions in 2017-18, compared to 50 the previous year.
North-east Conservative MSP Liam Kerr raised the issue at the Scottish Parliament and quizzed roads secretary Michael Matheson.
Mr Kerr demanded that the dualling of the A90 was “right at the heart” of a major Transport Scotland review into the network and argued the matter had become more important following the completion of the £1 billion bypass.
He said: “The opening of the AWPR does seem to have increased travelling north to Peterhead.
“That raises questions about dualling the A90 beyond Ellon and the safety measures at the Toll of Birness. Has the cabinet secretary any plans for those two vital projects?”
Mr Matheson responded that the possibility of upgrading the A90 Ellon to Peterhead road would be considered as part of second Strategic Transport Projects Review by Transport Scotland.
He said: “We have started the process of establishing the STPR2 which will look at the wider road network in Scotland, about future investment choices and options, and that’s one of them which will be considered within that process.”
Mr Kerr insisted it was important for the region’s transport network to be at the very centre of that process.
He said: “I want Transport Scotland and the cabinet secretary to put the needs of the north-east right at the heart of its strategic review.
“This is a notorious stretch of road and community campaigners will be watching Transport Scotland’s next move with interest.”
Peterhead councillor Alan Fakley is backing the Dual Peterhead group, which wants to boost the town’s economic fortunes by improving the roads.
They are campaigning for better connections between the Buchan port and the AWPR via a new dual carriageway.
Mr Fakley said: “I’m delighted to hear we are on the radar now for a possible dual carriageway to Peterhead.
“I hope the review into the transport here will include the new dual carriageway and it will recognise all the work Dual Peterhead has done over the last year.”
Dylan Clarke from Dual Peterhead said Mr Matheson’s intervention debate was a positive step.
He said: “Obviously, it is a positive that it is getting included as one of the projects for review. Any improvements are welcome.”
In November 2017, north-east transport body NESTRANS set out its plans to improve some of the major roads around Peterhead and Fraserburgh, but their proposals fell short of dualling the entire A90 Aberdeen to Peterhead road north of Ellon.
They proposed to spend between £10million and £15million improving the A90 Aberdeen to Fraserburgh road in November 2017, with the suggestion of installing roundabouts at the notorious Toll of Birness and Cortes junctions.