Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 16:18 UK

Long-term plan to dual A9 stretch

Scene of crash on A9
The scene of Saturday's crash, which left four people dead

The Scottish Government backs a plan to make the Perth to Inverness section of the A9 a dual carriageway, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has said.

He said it was a long-term objective, but more immediate action would be taken to improve stretches at places such as The Slochd, north of Aviemore.

It was the scene of a two vehicle crash that claimed the lives of four people at the weekend.

The A9 is mainly single carriageway north of Perth.

I can assure you, and I am extremely confident, that the SNP government will not repeat that neglect of the Highlands
Fergus Ewing
Nationalist MSP

Opposition parties and Highlands businesses have been calling on the Scottish Government to make the road a priority for improvements.

Mr Stevenson told BBC Radio Scotland: "We are planning for the dualling of the whole A9 to Inverness.

"We are planning interventions in the short-term, but also supporting a long-term strategy of dualling this very important road for business and of course to remove the opportunity for the road infrastructure to be a contributor to a number of accidents that take place."

Earlier, Nationalist MSP Fergus Ewing said the SNP would not ignore the route.

He said: "I am very confident that the announcement that the Scottish Government is making shortly in the autumn will have good news."

The Highlands MSP said it was disappointing the government was forced to proceed with Edinburgh's trams project because he said that money could have been spent on improving the A9.

He added: "It was party political really that in the first eight years of devolution there was no major improvements made to the A9.

"I can assure you, and I am extremely confident, that the SNP government will not repeat that neglect of the Highlands."

Map of A9
The A9 has been the scene of seven fatal accidents so far this year:
1. 26 July Three adults and a two-year-old boy are killed in a crash at Slochd
2. 19 July A 48-year-old man and his four-year-old granddaughter die near Dalwhinnie
3. 3 July A 64-year-old man is killed near Kingussie
4. 14 June A 23-year-old dies at Tacher, near Latheron
5. 4 June Two women pensioners are killed near Faskally
6. 19 May A 45-year-old man is killed at Gleneagles
7. 29 March A 24-year-old woman dies in a crash near the junction with Kinkell Bridge

Calls for major improvements on the route have come from many quarters, including the business community and other politicians.

Highlands Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander had previously said any new work to upgrade the route would not start until April 2011 at the earliest.

He said the timescale was revealed in a letter to him from the chief executive of government agency Transport Scotland.

The MP said this would fall outwith the current Scottish Parliament's term and undermined government pledges that a revamp was a priority.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser has also said upgrading one of Scotland's most dangerous routes should be the Scottish Government's "number one road priority".

He called for ministers to set a timetable for dualling the A9 between Inverness and Perth.

A toddler and three adults were killed in Saturday's crash.

A Dutch-registered Volvo estate and a pick-up truck collided at The Slochd, north of Aviemore.

A woman and a girl injured in the crash remain in a stable condition in hospital.

The accident happened just a week after a 48-year-old man and his granddaughter were killed in a four-vehicle pile-up at Dalwhinnie on the A9.

Witness plea over Highlands crash
27 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Police name fatal A9 crash pair
21 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Triple road tragedy hits family
22 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Two die in four-vehicle accident
19 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
'Less money' for north transport
28 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
A9 move 'not immediate priority'
30 May 07 |  Highlands and Islands


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