THE First Minister has been told to accelerate plans to make Scotland’s most dangerous road a dual carriageway to “save lives”.

Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing demanded the Scottish Government draw up a masterplan to complete the dualling of the A9 – named earlier this year as the country’s deadliest road – before parliament breaks for summer recess.

The A9 connects the eastern Central Belt of Scotland to its most northernly town, Thurso.

A project to make the road between Perth and Inverness into a safer and more efficient dual carriageway has been in the works since 2015.

Highland MSPs say delays to its completion are costing lives but Humza Yousaf did not mention dualling the A9 in his speech on Tuesday outlining the priorities for his government.

Ewing brought up commitments Yousaf made on the campaign trail during the SNP leadership race that cash would be found to complete the project – as well as another road connecting Nairn and Auldearn.

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He called for the Scottish Government to give an update on the project before parliament’s summer break.

Yousaf said the Scottish Government remained committed to dualling the A9 – but said an announcement on the timescale for completing the remaining sections of the road would come in the autumn.

Speaking to The National afterwards, Ewing said: “I welcome his renewed verbal commitments today but the SNP government must deliver.

“We are on our ninth life. People in the Highlands, but also around Scotland, want these roads dualled. Not only to improve the journey time - but also to save lives.  

“Three times as many deaths occur in incidents on single carriageway than on dualled roads.  

“Last year saw a horrendous number of lives lost - each one causing misery and devastation to the families involved.

“The procurement plan and detailed timetable must be brought forward for an announcement before summer recess.  

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“Transport Scotland have now had two years since the Holyrood election and have treaded water and so they must now deliver.  

“They must make amends for this delay and in particular the failure of the Tomatin to Moy tender.

“They must work with the civil engineering industry to change the way risk is presently all passed to contractors as that has simply discouraged and deterred bidders.   

“They need to use long-term framework contracts if we are to see dualling complete by 2030, as I believe is practically achievable.”