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Exclusive interview with Jo Blewett at Transport Scotland
Exclusive interview with Jo Blewett at Transport Scotland

Exclusive interview with Jo Blewett at Transport Scotland

Created in January 2006, Transport Scotland is responsible for the transport network in the country.

In line with the rest of Britain, Scotland is undergoing a number of significant projects that will result in upgrades in infrastructure that will be fit for purpose for many years in the future.

One of the most notable ongoing infrastructure projects is the A9 Dualling scheme between Perth and Kinross.

We spoke to the project manager on the scheme, Jo Blewett, who discussed the work undertaken by Transport Scotland, its relationship with central government, and the skills shortage challenges associated with implementing such a significant infrastructure project.

This is an excerpt of the full interview which will appear in our Transport Britain publication. 

Could you tell us a bit about Transport Scotland and its origins?

Transport Scotland is the national transport agency for Scotland. We seek to deliver a safe, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transport system for the benefit of the people of Scotland, playing a key role in helping to achieve the Scottish Government’s purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish and is wholly accountable to Scottish Ministers.

Transport Scotland is also responsible for managing Traffic Scotland – Traffic Scotland enables the collection and distribution of real-time traffic information relating to incidents and events currently taking place on the Scottish trunk road network. Road users on Scotland’s trunk roads are provided with information about road conditions with the aim of ensuring that best use is made of the existing Scottish trunk road network and to improve the safety and the efficiency of the network.

Tell us a bit about the A9 dualling project. Why is this project needed? What will it provide for businesses, users and the wider economy?

The programme comprises the upgrade from single to dual carriageway of 80 miles of the A9 between Perth and Inverness. The programme will improve journey time reliability and safety and better connect our cities. It will relieve driver frustration caused by lack of overtaking on this long distance route; while it will support key sectors such as tourism and food and drink and improve the quality and reliability of trips for freight.

How is the project managed, and what are the challenges with that?

The project is managed by Transport Scotland with design and development services being provided by Jacobs, ch2mFairhurst JV and AtkinsMouchel JV.

Key challenges come from its scale in terms of data, volume of assessment and numbers of stakeholders, and its technical challenges due to the environment and topography the route navigates.

There will be several environmentally sensitive sites to manage and substantial earthworks movements to take place whilst still keeping the A9 open to general traffic. The scale of the work will require significant resources from contractors and the remoteness of some of the corridor along with potentially difficult winter weather conditions will make construction challenging.

What does Transport Scotland do to ensure safety of all those on the network during development? Is this decided in collaboration with other stakeholders?

Safety is at the heart of all that we do – for all those who use the road and all those who work on or near the road, including during maintenance, development and construction.

We have a collective safety vision and each party involved in the contract to date from Transport Scotland, to consultants and contractors has its own safety plans and procedures. We have a collaborative safety web facility to share lessons and a regular cross-programme health and safety forum meets.

Particular challenges come from the remoteness of some of the working locations, driving long distances, poor weather, long nights in the winter and difficult access to and from the A9 into land. We also form part of the A9 Safety group which is a cross agency forum looking at the route – see the A9 Safety Group website for more  – http://a9road.info]

The full interview can be found in the next Transport Britain publication. 

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