It's time for the Scottish Government to invest for the long term in South West Scotland’s transport infrastructure.
From roads to rail, the South West has been badly let down when it comes to investment and building for the future.
The A77 is a vital artery between the ferry ports at Cairnryan and Scotland's Central Belt. Every day it carries a huge number of commuters, tourists, buses and commercial vehicles, but South of Ayr it is only a single carriageway in each direction and passes directly through a number of small towns and villages. It makes no sense for the main roads connecting Northern Ireland to the Central Belt and beyond to have a twisting single carriageway section with 8 speed limit in a single 40-mile stretch.
The A75 which runs between Stranraer and Gretna, and is the main link road into England is in no better condition. Both these roads urgently need a programme of long term investment and improvements. Much the same can be said for the A70 and A76 which both carry huge volumes of traffic daily.
The Bellfield interchange at Kilmarnock has become a significant local bottleneck at busy times. With traffic heading to and from North, East and South Ayrshire all attempting to pass through this area, there are often long queues down onto the A77 which can be a danger to drivers.
I’ve been working closely with my fellow MSPs John Scott and Finlay Carson to raise the profile of the roads in the area. But much of the credit for the progress we’ve made must go to the A77 Action Group and the Dual the A75 campaign, who have put in a huge amount of effort and lodged petitions at the Scottish Parliament highlighting the problems with these roads.
So far we’ve secured a commitment from the Transport Minister to conduct a study into the transport infrastructure in South West Scotland. Meanwhile, as a member of the Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, I’m working to secure further commitments from the Transport Minister around improvements to these roads.
There’s a real need for greater joined up thinking when it comes to transport investment. We need to be planning for the long term rather than just attempting to alleviate today’s issues.