In February, the Scottish Government announced that its 2025 completion target for improving the A9 route between Perth and Inverness was “simply no longer achievable”.
Ever since, people living in the north of Scotland have been waiting anxiously to hear details of a new “achievable” timetable for this vital and long overdue upgrade.
Finally, we have that information – but to dub it unsatisfying would be an understatement.
Within the space of 10 months, an extra 10 years have been added to the length of the A9 project, which now has a predicted end date of 2035. Somehow, this is being heralded by the SNP as worthy of celebration.
The party promised to dual the A9 and make the catastrophically dangerous road safe for locals and tourists alike 16 years ago.
Even if it does make good on its new pledge and gets the job done by 2035, voters will have been left waiting for 28 years. So many lives have already been lost and families shattered as a result of incidents on single-carriageway sections of the A9.
The best-case scenario now is 12 more years of unbearable pain for countless people. But, are we really to believe that, this time, the Scottish Government will actually follow through on its pledge?
Campaigners no longer know what to believe
Increasingly, it appears that Alex Salmond’s big promise made in Inverness all those years ago was nothing more than political theatre. Perhaps, thinking in the short-term, the former first minister assumed the SNP would not still be the responsible party in power all these years later; by then, it would be someone else’s problem.
Today, of course, Salmond is free to criticise his former colleagues for failing to figure out how to plan and pay for work he himself never even seriously attempted to take on.
Despite knowing five years ago that the 2025 target was unachievable, government ministers continued to peddle fiction as fact. Now, a 30-year-old transport secretary is making new promises. Understandably, campaigners no longer know what to believe.
Màiri McAllan could have a long and successful political career ahead of her. But, first, she has a great deal of trust to win.
The Voice of the North is The Press & Journal’s editorial stance on what we think are the most important issues of the week