A90 Marykirk junction improvements to be costed

LOCAL campaigners are optimistic that a fly-over at the A90 junction at Marykirk could be possible after Transport Minister Keith Brown agreed to look again at costings for the scheme.

Mr Brown made the pledge last Tuesday at the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee where he appeared to explain why improvements to the junction have been overlooked.

He said he had called for more detailed work to calculate costings for improvements after visiting the junction himself recently.

Previous estimates have varied wildly between £4 million and £23 million, which have led to accusations that Transport Scotland was trying to avoid the issue and made it difficult for campaigners to argue their case.

Mr Brown told committee members that the “cost refinement exercise” will give developers and other parties a better understanding of the money required, although he also said it would provide only a preliminary figure.

Hillside woman Jill Campbell, who has led the local campaign, said the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting had been positive.

She said: “As Keith Brown said afterwards, he isn’t taking it lightly. I just feel he’s taking a look at it with fresh eyes and although he didn’t bring a big bag of money to the table to bring it about, I did feel he was looking at ways of getting it done.

“For instance, when he visited and he saw the junction he said he was surprised there was no lighting, which might be a way forward. He’s looking at different things, which is good.”

Mr Brown’s comments were also welcomed by local councillor David May, who accompanied Mrs Campbell to the committee meeting in Edinburgh, and he acknowledged the cross-party support the campaign has attracted.

He said: “I appreciate the support from the MSPs from all parties on the committee, and for their decision to continue with the petition. I was also pleased to hear that the new SNP minister had very recently visited the junction with Jill Campbell, though I was told that the pressure of his work did not enable to see it at its peak time.

“However, the fact that he visited the junction was good news, and at the petitions committee he has instructed Transport Scotland that a costing of the junction should be done which is something the support committee, led so superbly well by Jill Campbell, have asked for.

“I had hoped he would have given reasons for the junction not being built, but this was not done. It is very clear to me that the junction should be included in the strategic transport plan as the junction is dangerous now and if there is any doubt about this you just need to ask drivers who have to cross it any morning at peak time.

“Furthermore with the amount of housing and industry coming to Montrose and Laurencekirk the junction is going to be even busier and more dangerous in the next few years.”

Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrat campaigner Sanjay Samani also said Mr Brown’s site visit was a “huge step forward” and he also welcomed the announcement that improvements are to be costed more accurately.

He said: “ His predecessor seemed to suggest that the cost could be £23 million, which would make it the most expensive fly-over in Scotland.

“In my view the fly-over should be added back into the Strategic Transport Project Review immediately. The sooner the junction is built, the better. It is great to see road safety back as the top priority for transport policy.

“North Angus and Mearns residents, from Forfar, Brechin, Montrose and Laurencekirk see no reason for any further delay. They will be relieved to know that there is now hope for a successful end to the superb campaign led by Jill Campbell.

“She should be commended for carrying on the fight, and forcing the Scottish Government to rethink their decision not to build the Laurencekirk fly-over.”