Overview

The A9 dualling programme will upgrade 80 miles (129 kilometres) of road from single to dual carriageway. Transport Scotland's £3 billion programme is designed to deliver economic growth through improved road safety and reliable and quicker journey times, as well as better links to pedestrian, cycling and public transport facilities.

The route requires dualling between 11 sections:

30 miles (48 kilometres) of the A9 between Perth and Inverness is already a dual carriageway - this dualling programme will upgrade the remaining 80 miles (129 kilometres) of the route. The Scottish Government has committed to completing the work by 2025. This is an ambitious deadline for a project of this size and complexity.

An update newsletter has been prepared detailing progress across the A9 Dualling programme.

Project benefits

The A9 dualling programme will bring several benefits for locals and road users. The programme will lead to:

  • journey time reductions between Inverness and the Central Belt and improved journey time reliability
  • improved operational effectiveness of the A9 and ability to respond to accidents
  • reduced numbers and severity of accidents
  • lower driver frustration

The Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), published in 2008, also identifies the potential economic benefits of the A9 upgrades. It states that the work is expected to provide a significant contribution to the Government's Purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth.

The A9 Dualling Programme Case for Investment

Transport Scotland produced an extensive Case for Investment, with a Technical Report and Executive Summary. Read the publications below:

Project history

In 2008, the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) set out the future investment programme for transport in Scotland over two decades including the proposed upgrade of the A9. As part of this upgrade work, the STPR identified dualling sections from Perth to Blair Atholl, then Aviemore to Inverness and Blair Atholl to Aviemore.

Then, in December 2011, the Scottish Ministers confirmed a commitment to upgrade the A9 between the cities of Perth and Inverness to full dual carriageway by 2025 as part of their Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP), which outlined £60 billion of spending by 2030. This also committed to dual the A96 by 2030, ensuring the road network between all Scottish cities will be dual carriageways.

The challenges

We are working with key agencies, authorities and local communities to address the challenges, including:

  • new bridges and major bridge widening
  • improving accessibility for local communities
  • addressing accident clusters
  • managing the impact on the many environmental designations
  • improving access to tourist and recreation sites including the Cairngorms National Park
  • minimising impact of construction
  • upgrading the existing dual carriageway sections to a standard consistent with the new route

Transport Scotland is working with key agencies, authorities and local communities to find the best solutions.

The strategy

Transport Scotland worked with key agencies to develop a strategy for the delivery of such a large and complex project. The A9 dualling strategy is designed to account for risks and opportunities over the course of the project, as well as maximising the benefits that the dualling may bring.

As work on the programme progresses, Transport Scotland will ensure that arrangements for participation are inclusive, open and transparent and that a wide range of participants are encouraged to get involved.

All proposals are developed following the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) and with planning permissions gained through the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.

Design development stages for the A9

Stage 1 (Strategic Assessment)

  • Strategic planning and development of improved transport links between Perth and Inverness
  • This stage is complete - The Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), published in 2008, broadly defined the need for the A9 to be dualled between Perth and Inverness
  • Topographical and environmental surveys
  • Traffic and business surveys

Stage 2 (Route Options Assessment)

  • Development and assessment of route options for upgrading the A9 from single to dual carriageway
  • This includes an engineering and environmental assessment of the potential impacts of each option to inform the route choice
  • During this stage the options will be made available for consultation
  • Following this assessment and consultation, the preferred option is then selected and taken forward to the detailed stage

Stage 3 (Detailed Design and Assessment)

  • Detailed assessment and definition of the preferred dualling option
  • An Environmental Statement is prepared and the land required for the dualling is also identified

Statutory Process (Publication of Environmental Statement and Orders)

  • The draft Compulsory Purchase Order (defining the extent of the proposed land required to deliver the scheme), the draft Roads Orders (defining the line of the proposed infrastructure) and the Environmental Statement (ES) are published
  • Any statutory objections, which are lodged during the defined period but remain unresolved, are then considered at a Public Local Inquiry (PLI)
  • If the objections are upheld following the PLI, the scheme may have to be amended and taken through the statutory process again
  • If the objections are resolved or dismissed, then the draft orders are finalised and made
  • Following the publication of the made orders, there is a legal challenge period. After this point the legal permissions have been obtained and the preferred option can proceed with the necessary acquisition of land

Procurement (Tender process to appoint a works contractor)

  • Prior Information Notices (PIN) are issued and Contract Notices follow - inviting suppliers to express an interest in the procurement
  • Pre Qualification process is used to shortlist suppliers that will be invited to tender
  • An Invitation to Tender (ITT) is issued to the shortlist of suppliers. The tenders are evaluated by Transport Scotland, a supplier is selected and the contract is awarded. The preferred dualling option can then move to the construction phase

Environmental considerations

The A9 passes through areas of outstanding natural beauty that are rich with wildlife and diverse landscapes. The Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in Britain, is just one of many significant landscapes reached by the A9 between Perth and Inverness.

Such natural beauty not only carries inherent value, but it is also a part of the region's tourist appeal. Conserving this natural heritage is an important part of our approach to the A9 Dualling programme.

Transport Scotland regularly engages with key statutory authorities, including Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and Historic Environment Scotland. Through detailed consultations we can effectively manage the many environmental challenges presented by the dualling programme.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

Transport Scotland has carried out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.

Working with the key statutory bodies and a range of environmental stakeholders we have identified the key environmental and landscape issues along the proposed route and have assessed the potential impacts associated with the dualling programme.

In June 2013, we published an Environmental Report that details the outcomes of the assessment. In March 2014 we prepared and published an Addendum to the Environmental Report, which responded to issues such as the potential impact on flood risk.

Transport Scotland has concluded the Strategic Environmental Assessment process for the A9 Dualling Programme and has published a SEA Post Adoption Statement in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. This statement is the last formal output of the SEA process for the Dualling Programme and outlines how the assessment findings and the comments received through the consultation process have been taken into account.

Safety

The multi-agency A9 Safety Group was established in July 2012 to reduce road casualties on the A9 which stretches from Dunblane to Thurso.

The main aim of the group is to explore measures which could be introduced on the route. This includes engineering, enforcement, education and encouragement that influences driver behaviour in a way that makes the road safer.

 

Community engagement

Engaging with local communities, businesses and individuals has been a priority for the A9 dualling team since the work to dual the route started.

This has included a number of drop-in sessions and public exhibitions in different venues along the length of the A9 corridor between Perth and Inverness. This has allowed communities affected by the programme to ask questions about its impact, discuss their concerns and has let them comment on our plans during the design period.

An Engaging with communities booklet has been developed. This sets out how the engagement will take place, including for the Kincraig to Dalraddy scheme – the first section to be dualled.

Public consultation

Transport Scotland takes public consultation seriously - it's a vital part of our work as we develop our plans to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness. We consult with a wide range of parties including agencies, local communities, road users and the general public.

Use the table below to find out how we are consulting the public during the course of the project.

Key stages during the design and development process
Stage Level of detail Level of feedback
Strategic Environmental Assessment Baseline conditions
Environmental constraints
Broad range of potential dualling options to be considered as part of more detailed design
A better understanding of the local conditions
DMRB Stage 2 Short list of dualling options
Outline of design details and environmental assessment
Preferred option and any amendments to design details
DMRB Stage 3 draft Orders Publication Preferred option and Environmental Statement
Extent Compulsory Purchase Order
Where scheme is unacceptable -Representation to Environmental Statement and objection to draft Orders

Agencies consulted on the programme include:

  • Business/Commerce/Economy/Integration: Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, Inverness Chamber of Commerce, Moray Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Road Haulage Association, Rail Freight Group, United Road Transport Group, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Freight Transport Association, British International Freight Association, UNITE the Union, Scottish Food & Drink Industry
  • Local Authority/Regional Transport Partnerships: The Highland Council, Perth & Kinross Council, Moray Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, HITRANS, NESTRANS, TACTRAN
  • Accessibility: SUSTRANS, The Highland Council, Moray Council; Perth and Kinross Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Ramblers Scotland, British Horse Society, CTC Scotland, HITRANS, ScotWays
  • Environment: Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, SEPA, Forestry Commission Scotland, Cairngorms National Park Authority
  • Tourism: Cairngorms National Park Authority, Visit Scotland, Scottish Government Tourism & Enterprise, Scottish Government Tourism Leadership Group
  • Network Rail