AS a roads engineer who worked on the design and construction of the "new A9"' more than 30 years ago, and as a motorist who frequently travels the route, I note with interest recent articles and correspondence about safety issues on this road.

Is the expensive proposed dualling best value for money in these days of constrained public spending? Are there other infrastructure projects in Scotland of higher priority on which scare public resources should be spent?

Should more money be spent on new super-hospitals fully staffed at all operational levels, including A & E, and enhanced to cope with increasing demand, especially from an ageing and a longer-living population ?

Some other main roads are in urgent need of improvements, including the A75 from Carlisle to Stranraer and the A96 from Aberdeen to Inverness. Based on traffic volumes at morning and evening rush hours in both directions, how about a three-lane motorway for the full length of the M8 between the two main cities in the country ?

Could some of the proposed public finance for the large-scale dualling of the A9 be better used comprehensively repairing and maintaining the existing road network to permanently eliminate potholes resulting from years of neglect and under-funding ?

Although old chestnuts, should there be rail connections from nearby exiting lines to each of the three main airports at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, with moving pavements linking from new stations into the airport buildings ?

Would the re-opening of the Edinburgh suburban railway line to passenger traffic with new stations for commuters and park-and-ride travellers represent a better return on investment, especially here with the double track already in place ?

Should the much-criticised tram line in Edinburgh be extended down to Leith as originally intended, possibly with additional spurs to the main universities?

To improve safety on the A9 I offer a few lower-cost suggestions:

l Dualling restricted to the southern end where there is a higher density of population, possibly between Perth and Pitlochry;

l Painting of frequent directional arrows on the road surface to indicate single or dual carriageway, to remind drivers of the status of the roadway on which they are travelling;

l Adoption of a regulation operated in some states in the US where a driver is compelled by law to pull in and permit over-taking if there are more than five vehicles immediately behind, thus reducing driver frustration and the risk of dangerous over-taking;

l Transfer of more freight from road to rail using the significant capacity available on the Highland railway line to Inverness, especially whisky tankers, supermarket articulated trucks and other long-distance delivery lorries;

l Better education and information for foreign motorists familiar with driving on the right-hand side of the road, to remind them to keep to the left, in particular joining from side roads, campsites, lay-bys, and so on.

l Minimum speed limits to ensure safe but steady traffic movement and to discourage convoys of slow-moving vehicles, conga lines of caravans and overloaded trucks struggling up the inclines.

Robin M Brown,

46 Buchanan Street, Milngavie.

IN your recent correspondence regarding cycling and road safety there have been several references to road tax and how this supposedly gives motorists a greater right to use the roads (Letters, July 23, 24& 25). It is time we nailed this myth. There is no such thing as road tax; the roads are paid for by all of us out of general taxation. Many motorists like to ignore the inconvenient fact that the road fund was actually abolished in 1936 by Winston Churchill, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the grounds that it was giving motorists what he regarded as a dangerously inflated sense of ownership of the public road. Seventy-seven years later this delusion still persists, with many drivers not understanding that owning a car doesn't give them a greater right of access to the public road. Indeed there is no right to drive a motor vehicle, it is a privilege granted under licence.

Everyone pays for the roads and everyone has the right to use the roads, either on foot, or riding a bicycle or a horse, but you are only permitted to drive a motor vehicle by licence because of the inherent risk that you pose to others while doing so. With a driving licence come responsibilities, such as the legal requirement to drive with due care and attention. If you are not willing to accept the responsibilities which come with a driving licence, you should catch a bus.

Kim Harding,

4 South Oxford Street,