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Transport secretary Mairi McAllan says her 'heart is in her mouth' driving on the A9

By Scott Maclennan

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Mairi McAllan during today's summit.
Mairi McAllan during today's summit.

The Scottish Government's transport secretary has admitted that when she is on the A9 either by herself or with family then "I have had my heart in my mouth".

At The Inverness Courier's A9 Crisis Summit Mairi McAllan described how she had a "knot in her stomach" after hearing about how people are affected by accidents on the road.

Regarding the fatalities and those injured in crashes, she said: "I want to offer my sincere, heartfelt condolences to every single person who has suffered within their families from a loss on the A9."

And she acknowledged that the current state of the dualling programme is "not fit for purpose".

The summit was arranged to hold the government to account over the A9 after new First Minister Humza Yousaf offered an "ironclad" promise to complete it after the government admitted it was "unachievable" to meet the 2025 deadline to complete the dualling of the Inverness-Perth stretch.

Today Ms McAllan appeared to recognise and understand the concerns of many people who drive on the A9 daily and the dangers they face because of it, vowing to do what she could to deliver the programme as a whole plus short-term safety improvements.

"I want to offer my sincere, heartfelt condolences to every single person who has suffered within their families from a loss on the A9," she said.

"I had a knot in my stomach when some of those experiences were being described earlier and I know that is but microscopic compared to the lifetime of grief that people are suffering.

"So my condolences go to them. So too they do go to those who have suffered injuries, and anyone who doesn’t feel safe when driving the route and I am with you on that.

"I myself, or when with my family, have had my heart in my mouth when emerging from some of the junctions on that route."

Ms McAllan, the most senior elected transport official in Scotland, recognised that the government and Transport Scotland had fallen short.

She said: "I acknowledge the situation as it stands is not fit for purpose and that acknowledgement is exactly what informs Scottish ministers commitment that the A9 between Inverness and Perth will be dualled.

"Let me repeat that, I am committed and the First Minister is committed to the completion of that project. Now clearly things have not moved at the pace that we would have wanted to.

"But I just want to be clear that dualling the A9 – our commitment – will be the single largest and most complicated transport engineering project in Scotland’s history."

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