FOR the first time in several years I recently drove the A9 to Inverness. Three thoughts struck me as I drove.

First, there is precious little sign of any serious work being carried out to dual the road. At this rate even the revised date of 2035 seems ludicrously optimistic and the end of this century more likely.

Secondly, do we really need to dual the entire length of this road in any case? It seems more like a political than practical decision given that the end result would be to shave minutes off a two-hour journey. The benefit will be marginal and only encourages more road traffic, which seems nonsensical in times of a climate crisis.

Lastly, I am no engineer but to dual some sections of this road will require prodigious engineering works. The costs will only spiral to effect those works and I fear the final costs will make the ferry fiasco look like a five-year-old's overspend in a sweety shop.

There are better ways to use the (optimistically) estimated £3.7-£7.2bn in costs. As David Spaven wrote today (Letters, April 25) money should instead be allocated to the Perth-Inverness rail line. And as another correspondent, Ian Moir, wrote (Letters, April 25), what about utilising this money to provide more remote regions - north and south - with a rail link? Let’s get more traffic, especially goods traffic, off the roads. Plus, the opportunity for tourist rail traffic in Galloway and the south and in the far north-west are immense. Sure, spend money where it is necessary to upgrade dangerous stretches of road.

While we are looking at road improvements, instead of spending disproportionate amounts on upgrading the A75, why not invest in a Carlisle to Stranraer rail link (and move the ferry terminal back to Stranraer where there is already a station)?

Tolls could be introduced on the A9 and A75 for HGV traffic to encourage movement of goods by rail. To make movement by rail more attractive, rail freight could be subsidised, at least for a time.

And if there is any money left, why not invest it directly into communities like Stranraer, Dingwall, Thurso et al to turn these into vibrant, self-sustaining communities rather than just making them places on the map to drive past more quickly?

Let us have a rethink before it is too late.

William Thomson, Denny.

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Don't blame advertising

MY thanks to Max Cruickshank (Letters, April 25) for his informative reply to my letter of April 24 as I wasn’t aware of the terrible effect of mixing cocaine and alcohol. We seem to agree on many points but probably not on the effect of advertising and in turn personal choice. Advertising very rarely creates the product; advertising drives people to choose the brand rather than the product. Indeed the recent growth of zero-alcohol products is amazing and was unexpected for me. I sold zero-alcohol beers more than 40 years ago but in negligible volumes.

Alcohol has existed for thousands of years, it has been legal and illegal but has always been a part of life all across the world. There is even a moonshine market in the USA to this very day. Vaping is an original development in that it seems to have exploded on the scene with no major advertising at all.

Whilst I respect Mr Cruickshank's work I have to say he’s still missing my main point, that is, I am responsible for me.

No amount of availability or advertising will change that.

John Gilligan, Ayr.

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Unfair comparison

IT is disingenuous of William Durward (Letters, April 25) to compare a second home, which is apparently used for leisure purposes, to a second home that is used to enable a person to attend their workplace, which might be so far from their main place of residence to render daily travel an unrealistic prospect.

David Clark, Tarbolton.

The canonisation of Lincoln

JOHN Birkett ended his letter (April 24) with a question: would those responsible [for the Melville plaque inscription] treat Lincoln with such malice? Lincoln’s views with regard to slavery evolved over many years. At one stage he expressed his thoughts on the matter as follows: "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some slaves and leaving others alone, I would also do that.’"

Two major factors have played significant roles in establishing his position in the history of the USA. First, the side which he led prevailed in the American Civil War and second, his life came to an end through assassination. With regard to the latter, Alistair Cooke of the BBC's Letter from America once wrote that Lincoln was "canonised, because a halo descends on all the murdered Presidents, and on Lincoln most of all." Lincoln is not, therefore, likely to be subject to condemnation.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

The Herald: Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln (Image: Getty)

Grate expectations

PERHAPS the conservators investigating the current condition of Hill House will conclude that it was unwise to have used insufficiently tried and tested materials or construction methods ("Work to dry out Mackintosh's masterpiece is at 'exciting stage'", The Herald, April 22), but one wonders how often in recent decades any of the 18 fireplaces Mackintosh specified for the house, and which were not intended to be purely decorative features, have been used.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.

It's time for t

HAVING listened to First Minister's Questions today (April 25) I wonder if we are experiencing the complete deletion of the letter "t" from words such as Sco(t)land, Sco(tt)ish, righ(t), talen(t), suppor(t) and so on.

Sadly it is not just at Holyrood we hear, or more correctly don't, hear it.

It is endemic on Scottish TV and radio channels also. While I don't propose a return to RP (Received Pronunciation) or BBC English as it was called, it would be so nice to have the spoken word uttered correctly.

Isobel Hunter, Lenzie.

A welcome diversion
Amongst the doom and gloom in the news am I correct this spring in noting an increase in joyful birdsong ?
Robin M Brown, Milngavie.