A96 upgrade overdue

As someone who will usually take roads like the Lecht over to Tomintoul rather than brave the dreaded A96, it was good to hear the First Minister Jack McConnell say that he believed the A96 should "probably" be the next priority for upgrading. (Of course, one has to recognise the timing of his comments, just weeks before a parliamentary election at which he hopes Labour will have enough support for him to serve a new term as First Minister.)

There is no doubt that the A96 upgrade is long overdue. The dual carriageway peters out at the first roundabout in Inverurie and, thereafter, drivers have to do with the occasional section of three-lane road.

I believe the important point about the A96 is that a lot of traffic is using the full length from Aberdeen to Inverness. That is more than a hundred miles. Nose to tail traffic may be something we can all put up with on journeys of 10, 20 or 30 miles. But to ask people to grind along for a hundred miles on an unsatisfactory road is another question entirely.

With the road wending its way through the streets of most town en route, the result is bound to build up frustrations in even the most placid drivers. I know myself that the red mist sometimes descends and you have to exercise control to remind yourself of the the vital motoring moto: "If in doubt, don't!".

Unfortunately - and I fear inevitably - some cannot resist the red mist and that is where some of these horrendous accidents occur.

This trigger for frustration is recognised by the roads authority. Their answer is a series of lay-bys with little signs saying that they are not for parking, but to let faster vehicles pass. Have you ever seen anyone use them? I haven't.

For the safety of our friends and family, plus the good of the economy in this area we need to get the A96 dualled.

Then, once the AWPR is in in place, we might finally have the basis for the trunk road network we really should have had for the past 30 years!
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