Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 12:29 UK

Minister visits A9 road project

Van on the A9. Pic: Iain Maclean
A petition is calling for further improvements to the A9

The Scottish transport minister has viewed a completed project to improve a section of the A9 road in Sutherland.

The 5.45m work near Helmsdale and Navidale was started a year ago in an effort to make the stretch safer.

An online petition calling for further improvements to the A9 has so far gathered more than 4,850 signatures.

Stewart Stevenson has also been asked to give the go-ahead to a new ferry link for South Uist, on the Western Isles, to the mainland.

Cautious support

Better transport links in the Highlands and Islands are a hot topic with news on Wednesday of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) backing the Dornoch Rail Link.

The link was mentioned in its submission to Scottish Government consultation on new transport projects.

Routing the railway line across the firth - as the A9 road is - would drastically cut journey times, according to campaign group Railfuture Scotland.

South Uist community company Storas Uibhist has also urged Mr Stevenson to give the green light for the setting up of a ferry service between the island and Mallaig.

The minister has previously given it cautious support.

The present ferry from South Uist sails on the longer route to Oban.

Meanwhile, the campaign running on website calls on the Scottish Government to upgrade the A9 to dual carriageway in its entirety.

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