'Current A96 plan will waste millions'
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A PRESSURE group has branded plans to dual all 88 miles of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen road a "colossal waste of money".
The A96 Action Group, which was set up in 2017, claims the cost benefit of dualling the full route would only be 78p in the pound.
With the prospective cost currently standing at £3billion that would equate to a £660million loss for the Scottish tax payer.
Steve Wood is an engineer as well as a leading light in the A96 Action Group.
He states he has no problem with the Scottish Government's plans to build a new route between Inverness and Fochabers.
However, he questions the financial logic of creating a dual carriageway through rural Aberdeenshire.
Mr Wood said: "Elgin and Nairn are almost 'car parks' nowadays due to the amount of traffic driving through them.
"When you have HGVs going through the middle of relatively small towns, then it's only right that something is done to direct the traffic elsewhere.
"However, I don't believe there is a case to build an entire new dual carriageway through rural Aberdeenshire.
"For approximately 60 miles of the A96, the traffic volumes are no higher than 55% of the capacity required to justify a two-way wide road.
"On top of that, access to the new dual carriageway for rural communities will be very limited.
"For example, between Huntly and Kintore only six junctions have been planned to lead onto the dual carriageway. By contrast, there are more than 50 junctions onto the existing A96."
Mr Wood is upfront about his own personal circumstances.
He lives on the eastern outskirts of Inverurie, just yards away from one of the three potential routes identified by Transport Scotland for the dual carriageway.
However, he claims this is far from the only reason for his opposition.
He adds: "If they build a new dual carriageway we would be losing some of the best agricultural land in Scotland without getting enough benefit in return.
"I know the Scottish Government has pledged to build the full dual carriageway by the year 2030, but I would hate for this to turn into some sort of vanity project.
"If the peripheral road in Aberdeen is anything to go by, the eventual costs are going to rise to far more than £3billion.
"It would be a colossal waste of money.
"We'd therefore like them to take a step back and think again about this."