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MSP urges Scottish Government to prioritise upgrade to Toll of Birness junction

By Kyle Ritchie

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The Scottish Government must make saving lives its “utmost priority” by upgrading a north-east dangerous road junction, a local MSP has urged.

Five years since a Nestrans study forecast “large benefits” from building a roundabout at A90 Toll of Birness, North East MSP Douglas Lumsden pointed to statistics showing the junction will be “almost unusable” in the near future.

The Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance report of 2017 found that without such an upgrade, motorists joining the A90 from the A952 to Fraserburgh would not have “safe gaps” by 2023.

At Holyrood on Wednesday, Mr Lumsden raised the roundabout’s omission from the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) paper outlining key infrastructure improvements to 2040.

He said: “Earlier this year, the Scottish Government released its national transport strategy.

“And as identified by my colleague Liam Kerr, the document failed to mention the notorious Toll of Birness junction.

North East MSP Douglas Lumsden.
North East MSP Douglas Lumsden.

“Upgrading the junction and the wider A90 will not only make a huge difference to the lives of those living and working in the north-east, serving as a catalyst for economic growth, but will come with the potential of dramatically reducing the number of horrific accidents and saving lives.

“Traffic assessments were done nearly five years ago now and show that the junction will be almost unusable in the future.

“With this in mind, will the Minister commit to upgrading the junction and bring much needed safety to commuters in Aberdeenshire?"

Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said safety improvements “can now be undertaken as part of the wider STPR2 road safety recommendation, which is recommendation 30, which focuses on trunk road and motorway safety improvements to progress towards Vision Zero and where junction upgrades are needed to support that development.”

However, East Lothian MSP Paul McLellan made a call that any road improvements “must be considered in terms of the potential environmental impact.”

Mr Lumsden said later: “Ms Gilruth has the opportunity to do what a long line of SNP transport ministers have not – make this junction safe for a generation of road users.

“Toll of Birness must be included in the final STPR2 report along with Cortes to help avert any more serious or fatal accidents occurring at these danger junctions.

“People using this road will be disgusted to hear SNP MSPs from East Lothian arguing about the environmental impact of a safety measure.

“That needs to be the utmost priority – not weighing lives of people in the north-east against navel-gazing among the SNP.”

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