Two of Dumfries and Galloway’s major roads appear to be in line for an upgrade.
The second version of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Review includes plans to improve access to Stranraer and the port at Cairnryan.
And it recommends “safety, resilience and reliability improvements are made on the A75 and A77”.
Possible schemes include realigning the A75 at Springholm and Crocketford – the only villages on the A75 Euroroute not currently bypassed – and improving the Cuckoo Bridge roundabout in Dumfries.
The train station in Stranraer could also be moved.
The document, which looks at possible investment in Scotland’s transport links over the next 20 years, was unveiled at Holyrood by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson on Thursday.
He said: “The review recognizes our strategic connections, including investing in cross-border rail as well as enhancing safety, resilience and reliability by making improvements to the A75 and A77 strategic road corridors which connect into the port of Cairnryan.”
South Scotland Labor MSP Colin Smyth had doubts about whether the upgrades would actually happen.
He said: “After years of being the forgotten region, why should communities in Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire in the south west believe the cabinet secretary when all they are being offered is vague commitments to possible improvements to the A75 and A77 with no commitments to recognizing the strategic importance of Cairnryan to Scotland’s economy?”
Mr Matheson replied that following the 12-week consultation on the review, there would be a “delivery plan” setting out how to proceed with the recommendations.
Galloway and West Dumfries Tory MSP Finlay Carson also remained unconvinced.
He said: “The whole thing is rather vague in terms of the timescale.
“This is the start of 12 weeks public consultation but what is unclear is what role this consultation will play in shaping the final recommendations? What if, for example, there was a huge response demanding dualling of the A75 around Springholm and Crocketford or the extension of the rail line from Stranraer to Cairnryan, or realigning the A77. Would that ensure these vital projects proceed?”
The review doesn’t mention bringing back the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line or reopening Beattock station, although there may be upgrades on the line between Glasgow and Carlisle.
South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper said: “While the document does not mention any particular rail routes, I will be feeding these into the call for feedback, and will be pressing the Scottish Government for particular action on the Stranraer to Dumfries and Dumfries to Lockerbie lines, and the re-opening of Beattock Station. I welcome that the cabinet secretary made it clear that just because a project isn’t mentioned in the document itself, it does not mean it won’t go ahead.
“The STPR2 makes several recommendations for improvements to the strategically important A75 and A77.
“These include improved overtaking opportunities, widening or realigning carriageways and improving junctions.
“These much needed and much lobbied for improvements will enhance our arterial routes, A75 and A77, and will help to attract people and business to our region.”
Last year, the UK Government’s Union Connectivity Review included plans to upgrade the A75, although a Scottish Government spokesman said “UK ministers have no role in deciding investment on Scotland’s trunk roads”.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.