Local communities & STEM supported by A9 dualling programme

Transport Scotland has highlighted the ongoing support and benefits for local communities that have been involved in the delivery of the A9 dualling programme.

The body has welcomed the considerable benefits brought about through its associated Academy9 scheme.

What is Academy9?

Involvement in the Academy9 schools initiative has so far seen the uptake of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects become more accessible to young people in the area.

It aims to inspire and support young people to pursue careers in this challenging but highly rewarding field, with Academy9 supporting pupils through pre-school, school, college and university.

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson stated: “While the benefits to road users are to be welcomed, we want to do lots more for the communities living along the A9 corridor.”

He added that the Academy9 programme provides an opportunity to invest in the country’s “next generation of engineers, designers and construction workers”.

“The A9 Dualling programme is about much more than building a road,” he concluded.

A special event has taken place this week at Aviemore, where the successes of the Academy9 scheme since its launch in 2015 have been showcased. More than 3,800 pupils and 120 teachers have been involved to date.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “Supporting more young people to get involved and excited in STEM subjects is a welcome benefit for all. STEM is an area facing considerable staff shortages at present, so promoting its uptake through the A9 dualling scheme is a fantastic result.”

Call for Brexit certainty for Scottish hauliers

There are growing calls for increased clarity on what a ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean for Scottish hauliers.

Scotland’s cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson stated there needs to be more detail on how this possible outcome could impact the sector in the months ahead.

Calls for clarity not being heeded

Mr Matheson said: “The UK government has to provide urgent advice on how, and when, it will address the very real concerns of our hauliers, their customers and their employees, to allow the industry to plan adequately and ensure its long-term future.”

He argued there should be plans in place for every possible scenario and ‘no deal’ is something that is yet to be fully explored by officials in Westminster.

However, with the deadline for Brexit fast approaching – even with the possibility of a deferred exit date – Scottish haulage providers need to know how to sufficiently prepare for life outside of the EU.

Mr Matheson noted that with no bilateral agreements signed between the UK and EU, and no further information being provided, it is now imperative that action is taken to maintain the smooth operation of many businesses.

At present, there are few businesses that hold the requisite permits to continue operating as normal after Brexit if no deal is struck.

“Scotland’s hauliers and their customers are extremely concerned,” he concluded.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “Brexit has the potential to cause significant disruption to Scottish hauliers travelling between the UK and Europe. It therefore requires urgent clarity to allow the industry to effectively plan for the future.”

Eight of nine A9 dualling schemes ‘now ready to go’

Eight of the nine remaining dualling schemes to improve the A9 in Scotland are now at the draft order stage, with just one project now outstanding.

Transport Scotland has confirmed that design work for the scheme is drawing to a close, with a last remaining ground investigation project to be carried out next month.

Final stage of groundworks to be completed

Work is set to take place over five weeks from March 4th along a southern stretch of the A9 between Tay Crossing and Ballinluig.

It will include the measurement of traffic volumes along the route throughout the five-week period. Travellers are warned of possible delays as a result of single-lane closures and the installation of temporary traffic lights.

This information gained will be crucial to ensuring the upgraded carriageway remains fit for purpose for years to come.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland stated: “The latest critical investigations starting next Monday are for the section between Tay Crossing and Ballinluig and build on other ground investigations carried out for this scheme late last year.

“We apologise for any inconvenience these works will cause and would thank road users and local communities in advance for their patience during the works.”

The organisation’s representative went on to add that the contractor will be monitoring traffic management efforts at the site throughout the period and will act to ensure that all delays are kept to a minimum.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “Work to upgrade the A9 has been ongoing now for several years. As a result, to finally see the end in sight for the planning phase, and for work to soon begin, is excellent news for road users in Scotland.”

Potential disruption for A737 users

Transport Scotland has announced that motorists using the A737 near Dalry in the coming weeks could face significant disruption to their journeys as a result of traffic management changes in the area.

Traffic restrictions will be in place along a 500-metre stretch of the road, near Wilson Auctions, from Sunday (February 3rd) and will be in operation for a period of approximately nine weeks.

Motorists using the carriageway during this time are advised of potential delays to journeys, as temporary traffic lights will be used to hold back drivers during periods of work by highways engineers.

Gavin Dyet, project manager at Transport Scotland, stated: “Work to deliver the Dalry Bypass is continuing at a steady pace, with construction of a roundabout at Hillend essential to deliver the project.

“We anticipate that any delays to journeys will be minimal; however, we will be implementing measures to lessen any potential disruption as far as possible, including manually operating the lights during peak periods of traffic flow.”

Work in the area forms part of the larger Dalry Bypass scheme, which hopes to bolster the economic prosperity of surrounding businesses and the local economy by providing more reliable journey times in the future. The project is forecast to be complete by the end of 2019.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, comments: “Motorists travelling in the area should be prepared to add extra time to their journeys in the coming weeks. However, we’re sure travellers will agree that, in the end, the upgrades being carried out along this busy stretch of carriageway will be worth it.”

Delivering a better service – have your say

Highways England manages the 4,300 miles of motorways and strategic trunk roads in England, known as the Strategic Road Network (SRN), and is looking for your views on what it is doing well, what it could do better and initiatives that you feel would improve the service.

Highways England has recently commenced a project aimed at improving the service it provides to the freight and road haulage sector. The three-year initiative incorporates a wide-ranging external engagement exercise which will help Highways England to understand the needs of the transport sector, while influencing future planning and operational decisions.

Highways England would like to get your views on areas such as:

  • How your organisation interacts with Highways England and the SRN
  • How the operation of the SRN affects your organisation
  • How you think Highways England is performing with respect to the service it provides to customers and in particular road freight

Highways England has produced a survey and would be very grateful for your views. The survey, which closes on 30 November, can be accessed here. Completing the survey should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes of your time.

If you have any queries, contact [email protected]