MORAY’S MSP AND SNP Councillors were being briefed this week on progress of the A96 dualling through Moray.
Richard Lochhead met with Transport Scotland’s Project Manager for the dualling for an update on the project and to discuss the next steps in deciding a preferred route.
The MSP was joined by his SNP Councillor colleagues for talks with John McIntyre and Contract Manager Mike Hodgson.
Mr McIntyre confirmed to the SNP representatives that they are currently working their way through the hundreds of responses received following the public consultation events held in Moray in June, where they published the route options for the Fochabers to Hardmuir section.
Transport Scotland told the MSP that further public events are planned for spring next year to update the public on route options – ahead of announcing a preferred option by the end of 2018.
Mr Lochhead has welcomed this news, having previously pressed the Chief Executive of Transport Scotland to ensure the agency maintains a high level of communication with communities in Moray as the project moves forward.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lochhead said: “It was useful to meet with the A96 Dualling Project Manager to get an update on the project and to better understand the next steps in deciding on a preferred route for the Hardmuir to Fochabers section.
“The dualling of the A96 is one of the biggest infrastructure projects Moray has ever seen and there’s a huge public interest in the dualling, with over 1800 people attending the public exhibitions held in the summer, and hundreds of people sending responses to route options consultation.
“Previously, I have urged Transport Scotland to ensure that there is good communication with local communities in Moray throughout the dualling process, so I very much welcome the fact that Transport Scotland will now look to hold more public events in the spring to give an update on the route assessment process.
“Whilst I’m very much aware a final decision on the route won’t be taken until the end of 2018, I hope they can provide more detail about the route options at these public events in the spring to show that they’ve listened to some of the concerns expressed locally.
“As well as discussing the process around deciding a route, I also emphasised the importance of access for non-motorised users such as cyclists and pedestrians, with Transport Scotland indicating that this is a priority and will be considered in detail once a preferred route has been selected.
“It was very clear that the project team are very keen work with the community and to engage with local residents throughout the dualling process and I would encourage people to continue to share their views with Transport Scotland as the project moves forward.
“Dualling the A96 really is a monumental investment that will hugely benefit local businesses and families by reducing travel times and improving the journey experience between communities in the north of Scotland, with Moray at the heart of the project.”