Berriedale Braes upgrade should be advanced after Sheriffs findings
16th March 2016
A Sheriff's description of the Berriedale Braes as inherently dangerous should add to the weight of evidence which should prompt the Scottish Government to advance its upgrading of the road, according to Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.
Earlier this year, Mrs Grant said she was extremely disappointed at the response from Transport Minister Derek Mackay which predicted upgrading the Berriedale Braes could take up the three years.
Sheriff Andrew Berry last week published his findings after a fatal accident inquiry was held last year into the death of lorry driver Bruce Cormack whose lorry suffered a sudden, multiple and catastrophic brake failure on the notorious hill.
I remember the accident well because it was on referendum night and my heart goes out to the family left behind as a result of this awful accident, she said.
The Sheriff said if it had been at a more forgiving location maybe the consequences would have been greatly reduced.
Transport Scotland plans to realign the hairpin by re-routing the road and although it would be difficult to say that this accident would not have had such serious consequences if the work had already taken place, there can be no doubt that the upgrading will help to make the road much safer.
How many more serious accidents will take place on the Berriedale Braes before this work can start?
Scottish Government Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, has told Mrs Grant that although it remained committed to delivering the A9 Berriedale Braes project, "the real terms cut in Scotland's capital budget means we must await suitable funding becoming available to progress it further".
Mrs Grant, who is campaigning for an early upgrade to the stretch of road, also repeatedly asked Mr Mackay if it was possible to come to an early agreement with the one objector to the scheme, to avoid a delay through a local public inquiry.
However, the inquiry is still due to commence on 7th April and the overall public local inquiry process could take in the region of 12 to 18 months. Construction of the scheme is then anticipated to take a year but only if the scheme is approved and a timetable set in line with available budgets.
So, in reality, the best case scenario is that Berriedale Braes will take at least two and a half years to reach completion from April this year, but the Government are being very cagey about committing the money for it, explained Mrs Grant.
A report in 2008 set out the problems and possible options
The preferred option was chosen in 2014
See Transport Scotland For full details of the project
Bill Fernie 24 March 2001- nothing has changed.