Transport secretary Mairi McAllan has written to a prominent A9 dualling campaigner to reassure her that the Scottish Government is “resolutely committed” to the project.
The government has come under heavy fire since admitting in February that the commitment to dual the road between Inverness and Perth by 2025 was “simply no longer achievable”.
Earlier this month, Ms McAllan met campaigners at a crisis summit in Inverness to discuss the project.
She has now written to Laura Hansler from the A9 Dual Action Group to say that a new revised timetable for the project is being “progressed with urgency”.
Ms McAllan said: “I am aware of the A9 Dual Action Group’s request for the publication of a revised timetable for the dualling of the A9.
“I can advise that work to determine the most suitable procurement options for the remaining sections of the dualling is ongoing and being progressed with urgency.
Safety measures and roadside sign campaign
“This is a complex exercise. It looks at a number of factors including how the project can be delivered most efficiently by the industry, while minimising disruption to road users and helping to support economic recovery post-Covid.”
Ms McAllan’s letter also includes details of some recently completed road safety measures.
These include improvement works at the B9150 (Ralia), A827 (Ballinluig) and the B8079 (Bruar) junctions.
Improvements at the B851 (Croy) and B9152 (Lynwilg) are planned this year.
Ms McAllan said there are also two road safety campaigns being deployed on the notorious road.
One encourages drivers to plan journeys and take regular breaks.
The other reminds people to drive on the left side of the road.
Government letter is ‘just words’
Ms Hansler has agreed to meet the transport secretary to discuss the dualling project.
But she said Ms McAllan’s response is “just words” until she sees work being done on the ground.
Ms Hansler said: “Until we actually have some tangible evidence that there’s a firm commitment to get on with the job at hand, I am not holding my breath.
“They are still trying to garner support with these fanfare announcements of small pockets of money.
“And spending on useless and expensive road signs that tell you to ‘drive on the left’. Ironically these can only be viewed if you are indeed driving on the left.
“Is that really the best we can do?”
Revised timetable could help restore faith in A9 dualling project
Last week, Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing warned that the A9 dualling project failure could cause Highlanders to lose faith in the SNP forever.
However, he did say it was still salvageable.
But only if immediate action to show a commitment was taken by First Minister Humza Yousaf.
Mr Ewing said: “If Humza produces a detailed plan – with a timetable and a completion date for each of the remaining nine sections – I would give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Many other people would too.”
The Scottish Government committed to the 2025 date in 2011.
At that point, it was predicted to cost £3bn.
The pandemic, Brexit and war in Ukraine have all been cited as reasons for the delay.