Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf have been asked to provide evidence to an inquiry investigating delays to the dualling of the A9.
Written evidence is being sought from the first minister and his predecessor, specifically on what advice they received on progress towards upgrading the trunk road.
They may also be invited to appear in front of an influential committee looking into the Scottish Government’s pledge to dual the route between Inverness and Perth.
A number of ministers have been asked to present written evidence on documents prepared by Transport Scotland officials on the project between 2012 and 2023.
A9 petition sparked consultation by committee
The Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee launched a consultation on the issue in Kincraig in August.
It followed a petition lodged by road safety campaigner Laura Hansler calling for the 2011 commitment to be delivered and to address safety concerns on the route.
Last month the committee decided to upgrade its consideration of the petition to a formal committee inquiry.
It previously asked the former cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, Alex Neil, to give evidence on the background to the project and ongoing delays.
Mr Neil held the cabinet secretary position between May 2011 and September 2012 when the funding for the project was initially promised.
He indicated that a detailed plan for the completion of the dualling work was prepared by Transport Scotland officials in 2012.
The committee has now requested a copy of this document, understood to be dated May 28, 2012.
The government has promised an update on the dualling programme in the autumn.
The committee want Mairi McAllan, the cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport, has been invited to provide a written update in advance of this session.
It will then review its next steps, including whether further written or oral evidence is needed.
Lessons need to be learned
Committee convener Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “Following the evidence from Alex Neil, we’ve already heard that finishing the A9 dualling project 25 years late is ‘unacceptable’ and it’s clear that lessons need to be learned.
“This is important, not only to support completion of the A9 at the earliest possible date, but also to understand what went wrong and how mistakes can be avoided in the future.
“The committee has now requested the relevant documentation from the Scottish Government setting out what advice was provided by Transport Scotland to ministers in 2012 regarding the project.
“In addition to this we’ve invited subsequent ministers who held responsibility for A9 dualling, including Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon, to provide written evidence, following which we may invite them to appear in front of the committee if deemed necessary.
“In the meantime, we eagerly anticipate the cabinet secretary’s promised update on the A9 dualling project to Parliament in the near future.”
A letter has been issued to Nicola Sturgeon, who was cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities from 2012-2014.
Mr Yousaf was also transport minister from 2016-2018.
Others who have been asked to help the inquiry include former ministers Keith Brown,
Michael Matheson, Derek Mackay, Paul Wheelhouse, Graeme Dey and Jenny Gilruth.
Ms Hansler said investigating the decisions that took place under the watch of previous transport ministers is the “inevitable next step” by the committee.
She added: “Calling Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon to account for their roles in the delays is a significant democratic moment.
“This is a real vindication of the parliamentary petitions process providing the public with a real opportunity to hold the government to account.
“We won’t rest until the A9 is dualled, and we won’t stand for any more excuses and lack of accountability.
A9 families and communities deserve justice and accountability
“Now is the time for the Scottish Government to be completely transparent as why these failings occurred and why there appears to be undocumented delays on the non delivery of their promised dualling by 2025.”
She said the people who have died on the A9, the families and communities affected by those losses deserve justice, government accountability and progress on the promised project.
“It is time to admit what went so clearly wrong, account for it, and move forward.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “We will, of course, continue to assist the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee in its ongoing considerations, and our focus remains on delivering the remainder of the dualled sections as efficiently as possible.
“This assistance includes consideration of any requests from the committee for documents in accordance with our established processes.”
It was revealed earlier this year that the upgrade will no longer be completed by 2025.
But the Scottish Government says it remains committed to completing the project.
At the SNP conference this month, activists urged party leadership to get on with dualling both the A9 and A96.