Scotland’s Transport Minister last night promised to tackle the problems on one of the most notorious roads in the Highlands – but warned that progress would not “happen overnight”.
Speaking at a transport summit in Crianlarich, Humza Yousaf unveiled improvements to the A82 Glasgow to Fort William road that does not reach the Highlands.
But he insisted that he understood the road stretched “well beyond” the Tarbet to Invernarnan section which is to be widened, and revealed preliminary was already under way to approach the well-documented problems of the Highland part of the route.
Despite missing out on this first round of work, north campaigners seemed satisfied with Mr Yousafs firm commitment that all parties will work together to ensure the northern section of the busy road is not forgotten.
The A82 summit held in Crianlarich Village Hall yesterday was chaired by Mr Yousaf and attended by more than 50 delegates.
Afterwards, he said: “It is very positive to have the stretch at Tarbet upgraded, but key issues were discussed in Lochaber and beyond.
“I’m aware the A82 stretches well beyond Tarbet, but we are going to bring agencies together including Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise as well as the Scottish Government to look at the various problems.
“It won’t happen overnight and there are budget constraints but Margaret Davidson, the leader of Highland Council has produced a scoping paper to take things forward.
“We also want to work with the police to put measures in place to avoid long delays when there are accidents on the road.
“But when completed, this upgrade will bring improved road safety and journey time reliability, connecting businesses and communities in the Highlands and Islands with the central belt.”
Campaigners in Lochaber have consistently made calls for the A82 to be improved along its route and welcomed the announcement of the summit.
Mr Yousaf chose the occasion to confirm that plans to widen the carriageway to nearly 24ft would go ahead.
The Scottish Government press release pointed out that it has invested £11 million in last year in the management and maintenance of the A82 and will continue to invest this financial year with a further £11 million of schemes planned.
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Andrew Baxter said: “It was a very positive meeting.
“I think everyone got the message that you can’t just stop at Loch Lomond. There is a lot going to be happening in Lochaber with the expansion at the smelter and I think with this The dialogue between the agencies, it will be a significant step forward.”
Local MSP Kate Forbes added: “It was a great meeting and it is good news that this stretch will be upgraded as it will benefit people from the Highlands when they travel south.”