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Billions of benefits would come from A75 dualling

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By Fiona Reid
Billions of benefits would come from A75 dualling

UP TO £5 billion of ‘positive benefits’ could be gleaned from improving the A75 and A77, it was claimed this week.

At Holyrood, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson said that if both roads were fully dualled it would have the huge financial impact.

And even if the routes were only partially upgraded and by-passes put in place around Crocketford and Springholm, it would still accrue in excess of £1 billion.

Speaking in a debate on Scotland’s road network, the MSP highlighted the findings of the Strategic and Economic Impacts report carried out by local authorities on both sides of the Irish Sea.

He said: “Make no mistake, these are the golden highways – but, unfortunately, are treated like paupers when it comes to investment.

“The two routes are probably one of the most profitable in the country and carry a staggering £67 million worth of goods every day.

“To put this into perspective this amounts to close on £9 billion annually as 400,000 freight vehicles travel along the 95-mile stretch of the A75 between Gretna and the ports at Cairnryan – and, of course, from the central belt to Northern Ireland.”

Working in tandem, Dumfries and Galloway Council together with South Ayrshire Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council commissioned an economic impact study.

It discovered that billons of pounds could be gained by improving both roads to dual carriageway standards.

Finlay Carson MSP  (Pic – Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)

Mr Carson explained the report examined seven packages, ranging from fully dualling them as well as instigating bypasses around key towns and junction improvements.

He added: “The financial rewards would come through improved journey times and lower vehicle operating costs.

“It is no surprise that the port operators at Cairnryan and Belfast Harbour have been lobbying hard for improvements to both roads.

“As Andy Kane, regional ports operating manager for Stena Line, said the full potential of south west Scotland cannot be unlocked until these roads are upgraded.

“Similarly, Laura Gilmour, Irish Sea ports director at P&O, said what we need now is assurances about physical work beginning.”

Mr Carson reiterated his call to the Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop to introduce average speed cameras and to increase the speed limit to 50mph for HGV vehicles.

In her response, Ms. Hyslop confirmed progress was being made.

She said: “We are making improvements to the A75 with the procurement of technical advisers under way to take forward design work on the Springholm and Crocketford bypasses benefitting locals, hauliers and tourists but especially the residents of these two villages.”

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