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Fears A90 Toll of Birness improvements could be left ‘another 20 years’

Campaigners have repeatedly called for improvements to the A90 Toll of Birness junction.

A collision blackspot on the A90 risks becoming an “afterthought” because it was not named in the Scottish Government’s new national transport strategy, according to a north-east MSP.

The newly-published transport review made 45 recommendations for projects over the next two decades.

But it fails to mention any specific improvements to the notorious Toll of Birness junction, which links the A90 Aberdeen to Peterhead road with the A952 to Fraserburgh.

This led to accusations the project is being “kicked into the long grass” by the SNP-Green government.

However, a spokesman for Transport Scotland said the goverment’s transport strategy contains a road safety recommendation which “focusses on trunk road and motorway safety” in Scotland.

He added that “consideration of further safety improvements at Toll of Birness can be undertaken as part of that recommendation”.

Yet North-east MSP Liam Kerr said the junction has been “left as an afterthought”.

North-east Conservative MSP Liam Kerr.

He added: “It’s shocking this transport strategy hasn’t recognised the A90 north of Ellon and has instead kicked the proposals into the long grass.

“There continues to be a terrifying number of collisions on the road, many of which have tragically resulted in lives being lost.

“The prospect of waiting another 20 years for the Toll of Birness to be upgraded is unthinkable which is why I’m calling on new transport minister Jenny Gilruth to prioritise this blackspot once and for all.”

Nestrans chairwoman Councillor Sandra Macdonald, said the A90 Toll of Birness upgrades are “definitely something” the regional transport body is “progressing”.

She said one of the priorities of the Scottish Government’s transport strategy is to deliver safety and she is hopeful the plans could be taken forward at a national level.

Safety improvements

Campaigners have repeatedly called for upgrades to the infamous junction, with Transport Scotland confirming last year that safety improvements were “being considered” as part of the review.

However, the transport strategy, which is now out for consultation, only names improvements on the A90 “through Dundee”. 

We revealed last year there were 567 crashes on the A90 from Aberdeen to Peterhead between the start of 2006 and July 31 2021.

These figures show there were 146 serious crashes, 384 slight crashes, and 10 incidents with no injuries recorded.

Jenny Gilruth, Scotland’s new transport minister.

Newly-appointed Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has been urged to take the proposals forward in her new role.

Councillor Gillian Owen, who runs the Why Stop at Ellon campaign, said she is “appalled” the Toll of Birness is absent from the government’s transport strategy.

She added: “Numerous SNP transport ministers have been and gone yet every single one of them have turned a blind eye to the dangers at the Toll of Birness.

“I’m now calling on Jenny Gilruth to do the right thing and upgrade the road to prevent more lives being lost.”

Roads investment

A Transport Scotland spokesman confirmed the proposals could be considered under the road safety recommendation contained within the report.

He added: “We continue to make the most of our current infrastructure assets and the budget includes over £855 million in motorways and trunk roads spending – focused on critical safety maintenance of our trunk road network.

“The north east has recently benefitted from roads investment. The £49.5m Haudagain roundabout improvement scheme will reduce congestion and enhance journey time reliability.

The new Haudagain roundabout is a roads project taken forward by the Scottish Government.

“Local people and those using the improved scheme will benefit from a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists.

“The £745m investment in the AWPR project is making journeys into Aberdeen a safer and more enjoyable experience by enabling flee-flowing traffic, which generates lower carbon emissions and by taking slow-moving traffic away from city streets improving air quality for some 75,000 homes.”

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