CIVIL engineers in Scotland have said they knew “for many years” that the Scottish Government's aim to dual the A9 by 2025 would not be met. 

Plans to dual the road in a bid to improve safety and connectivity are on-going. 

However, earlier this year transport minister Jenny Gilruth announced that the 2025 goal for the project's completion would not be met - sparking ire from opposition parties. 

Gilruth said that it was due in part to the single tending offer for the section between Moy and Tomatin coming in significantly higher than the £115 million estimate cost. 

In response to a petition due to be discussed by a Holyrood Committee this week, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Scotland said the industry considered the goal unachievable before the announcement from the Scottish Government and speculated the slow pace of work could be deliberate.

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“The civil engineering sector in Scotland have known for many years that the promise to dual the A9 2025 would not be met,” the document said.

“The pace at which design and development work and subsequent road orders for each of the 11 sections has been carried out can be best described as being glacial.”

The body went on to say there was suspicions among the industry that the slow movement “has been deliberate as there has been insufficient budget allocated to allow these sections to be procured”.

The document added that Transport Scotland is considered “the worst client to work for in the UK” due to the type of contract it uses.

Current Transport Scotland contracting arrangements, the submission said, are an “unattractive anomaly” in the industry, with most contracting bodies having moved to a “new engineering contract (NEC)” in 1993 that is preferred by the sector.

“It was a radical departure from existing building and engineering contracts such as that still favoured by Transport Scotland, as it was written in plain language and designed to stimulate, rather than frustrate, good management,” the submission said.

“Across the UK it is estimated that several hundred billion of pounds of procurement have been facilitated by this standard contract and it is now regarded as the industry norm.”

The current contract, which the body said was limiting interest from the sector, places more risk on the contractor as opposed to Transport Scotland.

The body went on to recommend four approaches that could be used by Government to dual the A9, including the use of PFI or funding three large sections directly from the Government’s capital budget.

The document also suggested the creation of a dualling framework or the creation of much smaller sections of the road that can be contracted out in a way that is affordable to the Scottish Government.

CECA Scotland and Transport Scotland officials will appear before Holyrood’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee on Wednesday in relation to a petition which has reached more than 3,800 signatures with the petitioner, road safety campaigner Laura Hansler, also due to give evidence.