The Scottish Government has insisted that it is ‘committed’ to upgrading the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan, despite the process of developing and assessing the preferred route passing the six-year mark.
Transport Scotland has published a new interactive Story Map webpage, which it said will help keep the public informed of progress as the project develops. The webpage also includes a questionnaire seeking views on the existing route, how it influences travel decisions, and the proposed scheme itself.
Transport minister Graeme Dey said: ‘We remain committed to upgrading this key strategic route along the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan.
‘The design work for this challenging scheme has continued throughout the pandemic and we now want to hear from the public on their experiences of using this route, as we work towards publishing draft Orders.’
The road follows the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond north of Tarbet
He added: ‘We need to ensure that any future upgrade fits within the area’s outstanding landscape and environment and maintains the renowned beauty of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, whilst also minimising disruption while construction takes place.
‘This vital route connects the Highlands and Islands with Glasgow and the Central Belt and the work we are doing will lead to improved road safety and journey time reliability, as well as helping to meet the needs of business, communities and visitors alike.’
The Transport Scotland website says it is finalising the development and assessment of the preferred route option with a view to preparing draft Orders in 2022 for formal comment, but does not give a beginning or end date for the scheme itself.
The scheme was first identified in the 2008 Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR). A preferred route option was identified in September 2015. In 2017 the then transport minister, Humza Yousaf, confirmed that the scheme would comprise a 7.3 metre wide carriageway.
Ground investigation work took place in early 2018. Mr Yousaf said: ‘We remain committed to upgrading the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan'. He also made exactly the same statement at the time as the one attributed to Mr Dey this week.
The Infrastructure Investment Plan for Scotland 2021-22 to 2025-26, published in February, gives £250m-£500m, as an initial estimate of the cost, ‘which will be refined and updated as the scheme design becomes more developed’. The document suggests that £136m will be spent on the scheme between 2021 and 2026.
The Transport Scotland website states: ‘We will consider funding options as we progress through the project development.’
According to the policy programme under the recent agreement between the SNP government and the Scottish Green Party, the outcomes of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) will be used ‘to direct future transport infrastructure investment’.
The agreement also states that, aside from the £3bn A96 dualling scheme ‘work on other trunk roads projects and programmes under construction, design, development or procurement will continue and be subject to the normal statutory assessment and business case processes’.
A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute council told Highways: 'We welcome initiatives to improve safety and accessibility for residents, businesses and visitors in Argyll and Bute.
'As one of the authorities in the area, we will work with Transport Scotland and we would also encourage those with an interest to give their views.'