|Length:||176 miles (283.2 km)|
|Meets:||A8, A902, M90, A9000, A985, A972, A96, A952, A98|
|Former Number(s):||A85, A972, A929, A94, A92, A947, A952|
|Old route now:||A9000, B924, B981, A909, B996, A922, A912, A989|
|Route outline (key)|
- 1 Route
- 1.1 Section 1: Edinburgh – South Queensferry
- 1.2 Section 2: Perth – Aberdeen
- 1.2.1 Kinnoull to Ardgath
- 1.2.2 Ardgath to Invergowrie
- 1.2.3 Dundee, Kingsway
- 1.2.4 Dundee, Forfar Road
- 1.2.5 Fintry to Tarbrax
- 1.2.6 Tarbrax to Invereighty
- 1.2.7 Forfar Bypass: Invereighty to Quilkoe
- 1.2.8 Quilkoe to Careston
- 1.2.9 Careston to Kintrockat
- 1.2.10 Brechin Bypass: Kintrockat to Keithock
- 1.2.11 Keithock to North Water Bridge
- 1.2.12 North Water Bridge to Oatyhill
- 1.2.13 Laurencekirk Bypass: Oatyhill to Meikle Fiddes
- 1.2.14 Meikle Fiddes to Grasslaw
- 1.2.15 Stonehaven Bypass: Grasslaw to Logie
- 1.2.16 Logie to Bridge of Muchalls
- 1.2.17 Bridge of Muchalls
- 1.2.18 Bridge of Muchalls to Bourtreebush
- 1.2.19 Bourtreebush to South Damhead
- 1.2.20 South Damhead to Bridge of Dee
- 1.3 Section 3: Aberdeen – Fraserburgh
- 2 History
- 3 Named Junctions
- 4 Links
The A90 is a lengthy Scottish A-road, starting in Edinburgh and running up the majority of the east coast to end in Fraserburgh (although immediately north of the Forth it has been replaced by the similarly numbered M90). The road was originally far shorter and was extended to its current length only in the 1990s.
Section 1: Edinburgh – South Queensferry
The A90 starts in Edinburgh, turning off the A8 (Princes Street) through Charlotte Square, before returning to the A8 at a bizarre cannon – bizarre because there is no access between the A8 and A90 here. The A90 then sets off purposefully down Queensferry Street and across the Water of Leith at Thomas Telford's impressive Dean Bridge and then onto Queensferry Road.
As the City Bypass stops short at the A8, the only access to the A90 avoiding Edinburgh itself is by the A902 from Leith to the A8, which has a lengthy multiplex with the A90 in the north western suburbs. After the A902 parts company, the A90 gains primary route status. It first crosses the River Almond by a viaduct (the new Cramond Bridge) and then becomes dual carriageway which it retains all the way to Aberdeen (including the M90 section). On the Edinburgh-bound carriageway there are very heavy restrictions, including traffic light controlled slip roads and a long bus lane (unlike the former M4 taxi lane, this one does seem to be used by buses).
Just north of Cramond Bridge the dual carriageway veers away slightly from the original line of the A90 and passes under Burnshot flyover, a grade-separated junction with an unclassified road from Kirkliston. The southbound slip from the flyover actually follows the original line of the A90 for several hundred metres, merging with the dual carriageway just north of the Cramond Brig Bar and Restaurant.
At Dalmeny Park the M90 traffic joins in as the next few miles of the A90 have been realigned for the Queensferry Crossing. 3 bridges now span the Forth. A new D2M cable stayed structure to carry the extended M90, a large cantilever bridge to take the railway line across and a graceful 60s suspension bridge which has been showing its age recently. It has now been replaced by the Queensferry crossing so it is now effectively a bus lane.
Formally the A90 swung north, crossed the Forth Road Bridge and merged with the M90 for the 30 mile run up to Perth. Recently though the A90 has been rerouted up to the new Queensferry junction as an all purpose road to get non motorway users off the road for the M90 starting again for the bridge. This is a slightly unusual thing to do and could easily be solved by opening up the new bus slips to all vehicles but nothing has come of this yet.
North of the Forth the dual carriageway has been widened to D3M to allow distribution of traffic between the B981 junction and and the A985 Admiralty junction.It is at the aforementioned junction that we turn back on to the original start of the M90 on its run up to Perth. The old A90 continues through Inverkeithing, Cowdenbeath, Kinross and the Forth road bridge as the A9000, B981, B917, B996 and A912 to Perth. Because of its age, several sections of the M90 are not up to modern motorway standards. In particular there is an 8-mile stretch around Kinross without hard shoulders.
Original Author(s): T1(M)
Section 2: Perth – Aberdeen
Until the 1980s, the A90 stopped in Perth. After completion of a dual carriageway route right through to Aberdeen, the A90 number was extended along it, incorporating parts of the A85, A972, A929, A94, A92, A947, and A952.
Between Perth and Aberdeen, the current A90 follows closely the traditional route. The road was improved gradually through the 1960s and 1970s, with fast single carriageway and a few short stretches of dual carriageway. With 1980s expansion of oil-related traffic to and from Aberdeen, and fish traffic to and from Peterhead and Fraserburgh, the entire route to Aberdeen was dualled, with bypasses for the remaining communities. Since renumbering as A90, there have been selected improvements with grade separated junctions.
Kinnoull to Ardgath
Single carriageway until the late-1970s, it was dualled at about the same time as the M85 Friarton Bridge. There was one grade separated junction installed, at Glencarse, but otherwise, junctions were mainly at-grade, including right-hand turns across the carriageway. An increasing number of accidents along this section in the early 2000s resulted in a number of grade-separated junctions being installed, and the remaining gaps being closed off. The final junctions to open were at Kinfauns and Glendoick in 2007. The new junctions are definitely an improvement, but this stretch of road is relatively busy, with lots of agricultural traffic and goods vehicles – large signs warn traffic coming off the M90 of turning traffic.
The original road at Kinnoull Holdings ran due west through the site of the junction, and can be seen as a short dead-end to the west of the motorway.
Ardgath to Invergowrie
Dualled in the late 1960s, several junctions have now been grade separated, most recently the turning for Inchture.
The road originally continued to a large roundabout on the west side of Invergowrie, with the A85 continuing through to Dundee. Invergowrie has been bypassed, and the dual carriageway swings north to a new roundabout. The original roundabout still exists, and can be accessed through a lay-by on the westbound side.
The Kingsway was built in two parts in the 1930s. The eastern part was dual carriageway with a broad central reservation (in a similar style to the Brodie system roads in Liverpool), the western part was a rural single carriageway. Junctions on both parts were either simple crossroads, later with traffic lights, or roundabouts. In the 1980s, the western half of the Kingsway was dualled, with two large grade-separated junctions, although the speed limit reduces as you travel eastwards. The eastern half remains almost as built, although it has seen some modification in recent years. A double roundabout replaced the lights at the A929/A972 crossing (where the A90 now turns north), until 2008, when the junction was redesigned with traffic lights again due to the high volume of traffic. (There was a single small roundabout at this junction in the 1980s.)
Dundee, Forfar Road
When the double roundabout at the Kingsway junction was built, the A929 Forfar Road was realigned slightly further west. A very short length of the original route survives as a service road just north of Kingsway, but the rest of the road has been landscaped. The housing estates to the east of the road were never among Dundee's best: The school was demolished a few years back, and some of the smaller point blocks were taken out in 2002 having been unlettable for more than a decade.
There are three roundabouts on the route out of Dundee:
- Beyond the roundabout next roundabout is the last filling station in Dundee, and the last roadside fuel until Stracathro.
- The middle roundabout serves the Fintry housing areas, and has a reasonable proportion of turning traffic. For many years this was the last roundabout, and the approach from the north was the usual mile of yellow stripes, but since it's now the second southbound roundabout these have been removed.
- The third roundabout has a three lane approach northbound, with a left-turn-only lane which seems never to be used. The two lanes going through seem unnaturally narrow and tightly curved, and I can never find a line through the roundabout that I'm happy with. Southbound, it's much better designed. This roundabout also gives access to the old A929 road leading out of Dundee.
Fintry to Tarbrax
The old road out of Dundee used to go north up the Hill of Balmuir – until the gradient got too much, then it turned sharply east to take a more gradual line towards Pourie.
At the next left hand bend, up onto the ridge, is a monument to Dundee soldiers lost in war. When the dual carriageway was driven straight through the Hill of Balmuir in a deep cutting, the monument was relocated to a new plinth so that it would still be passed by those leaving the city. However, the greatly increased traffic noise was deemed inappropriate for a war memorial, and the statue has been moved back to its original setting at Pourie.
The new A90 cutting continues down the back of the hill, with the Pourie road crossing over on a bridge (no junction), and the dual carriageway regains the original line of the route descending to Muir of Pert.
The small village of Inveraldie, on the west side of the road, has the appearance of military or forestry housing – there is a disused wartime airfield less than half a mile west of the road, and the buildings were used as a POW camp in the latter part of the war. Now there's a large electricity sub-station and poultry sheds on the airfield site, and the village is just a small community, just outside Dundee but joined only by the busy dual-carriageway.
Just after Inveraldie, at Balmuir, the dual carriageway swings slightly west, with the old road continuing straight ahead. The old road is still open, and can be followed for about a mile through Todhills. Just north of this is the junction for Tealing, signposted to a Souterrain and Dovecot. The original Tealing turn-off was a large triangular junction, and still survives in the woods to the east, but with a dead-end at the modern road.
North of Tealing, the road curves steadily eastwards, climbing up to the A928 Glamis turning at Petterden, but first passing the other end of the old road through Todhills. There are actually three generations of road at Petterden. The original road is the furthest east, now a dead end track to the south. It turned sharply east at Petterden, with the Glamis road junction on the bend, and ran around the east of the small wood. (There have been several new cottages built here in recent years, and some of the old road may now be in private gardens!) The road was straightened in the early 1970s, forming the current minor road from Todhills. It can be followed for about half a mile north of Petterden, before being cut by the dual carriageway. A further section can be traced beyond, with a 45-degree right-hand bend, and yet another section around the outside of the next left-hander.
The dual carriageway north from Dundee originally ended just onto the straight at South Tarbrax.
Tarbrax to Invereighty
The road north from Tarbrax was improved first to a broad single carriageway. Only when it was a single carriageway connecting dual carriageway at either side was it upgraded.
When the dual carriageway was built, there was a minor problem with a business premises at Muiryfaulds. The business trades and services Iveco agricultural machinery and trucks, and therefore needed access for long vehicles to and from both carriageways. The new road was aligned slightly further east than the old, so that Muiryfaulds could be redeveloped with its own slip roads from the northbound carriageway only – signposted as No Vehicles (except for access). An extremely broad central reservation allowed cut-throughs to be placed a hundred metres north and south, allowing HGV-sized traffic to make U-turns, without causing an undue hazard.
North of Muiryfaulds, the road descends steeply past Gateside. The current line of the road dates from the early 1970s, avoiding sharp bends at the top and bottom of the brae, and by-passing Gateside itself. Most traces of the original road were lost when the current line was dualled and the GSJ added in the 1990s. One unusual feature is that the footpaths leading up to bus stops on the main road are lit – and the steepness of the lights is deceptive when driving on the otherwise unlit road at night.
The road north to Invereighty was the scene of an interesting problem during construction of the dual carriageway. For many months, one small cottage along the route remained occupied – apparently due to legal problems with the compulsory purchase order. The new road through the site was to be on an embankment, some 15–20 feet above ground level, and the fill was completed to full height right up to the boundary fence on both sides and the dual carriageway surfaced right up to the edges of the gap. The new bridge over the B9127 had been completed just a short distance away, so there was no question of the road not being completed as planned. When the purchase finally went through, and the cottage vacated, completion of the road took little more than a couple of weeks!
At Spittalburn, there is again a length of old road, with another bend being bypassed in the 1970s. The north end of this old road marks the southern end of the Forfar Bypass.
Forfar Bypass: Invereighty to Quilkoe
Built as dual carriageway when the adjoining sections of road were improved single carriageway, the Forfar Bypass had one of the worst safety records of any part of the road. (The other parts of dual carriageway all started with a poor safety record, most notably the Laurencekirk section, but only the Forfar Bypass failed to improve after the initial learning curve.) There are only four junctions on is part of the road, with one additional flyover carrying a local road.
The opening of the bypass led to several changes in the road numbering around Forfar. The A94, which had previously run all the way into Forfar from the west, was diverted north along the bypass. The A929, which had previously met with the A94 in the centre of Forfar, was diverted along the southern part of the bypass to the A94 junction, then followed the old A94 into Forfar, with a cannon off the A94. The A932, which came into Forfar from the east, was extended south along the former A929 to the new junction on the bypass.
Where the dual carriageway veers left off the original A929 route, the first junction is a simple T-junction with a short link back to the original road into Forfar. This road is numbered as A932 for some reason, extending the number of a route from the east of Forfar. (The A929 number was taken out to the bypass on the Glamis road instead.) There's a café just off this junction at Lochlands, which is worth a stop in summer. Southbound traffic approaching the junction has VMS warning of northbound turning traffic.
The second junction is where the bypass crosses the A94, the original main road from Forfar to Perth. The section of former A94 between the bypass and Forfar is now A929 (the former number of the Dundee–Forfar road).
The fourth junction is where the former A94 rejoins the dual carriageway. The original road ran slightly further north, with a long tight bend to the east.
The two staggered junctions for the A94 and A982 have had an extremely poor accident record. Traffic on the dual carriageway reaching 80 mph, and the crossing traffic included a significant proportion of HGV and agricultural traffic. The first changes, made to both junctions, was the addition of auxiliary exit lanes on both sides, thus enabling crossing traffic to get clear of the carriageway instead of joining in lane 1 and then turning left. When this proved insufficient, the speed limit was lowered to 50 along the entire two mile length between the two junctions, with camera enforcement.
Work was finally completed in 2003 to install two new grade separated junctions. The A94 Glamis junction features an underpass, with the Kirriemuir junction involving a new bridge crossing the A90. Both junctions feature a small pair of roundabouts, and, presumably for reasons of economy, relatively short sliproads. The 50mph limit was removed after completion of the new junctions, and the cameras removed. The B9128 junction did not get an upgrade, but the centre reservation gap was closed. (Northbound direction signs were patched to remove the B9128 right turn, leaving only A90 straight on for Aberdeen. These signs have since been removed.) The same has been proposed for the A932 junction, but as of 2011 has not yet been implemented.
There's a McDonald's on the corner of the Glamis junction.
Quilkoe to Careston
This section was also improved as a single carriageway before being dualled at a later date. The road was always very fast, starting with two long straights joined by a long smooth bend. After the 100mph straights, the bends at Finavon slowed things down again. The original bends went through the village, then cut northwest to a bridge (missing), with a sharp turn back to the hotel. Even the improved bends were a shock for those cruising at well above the speed limit. There are now GATSOs on the straight to keep speeds under control on the dual carriageway - although local advice says that at least one has ever been powered and remains a dummy.
Finavon Services, beside the Inn, used to include a filling station and a transport café (excellent bacon rolls), but the filling station closed many years ago and the café went last year. A new café, in a much-extended building, has recently opened on the site.
Beyond Finavon, the road reverted to long straights, with a sweeping double bend just east of the Careston Castle entrance. The road was realigned further south, with much smoother bends, and the original is still used for local access.
Careston to Kintrockat
Just beyond the double bend at Careston is one of the older stretches of dual carriageway on the whole road, dualled in the late 1970s. It's recently been resurfaced, and a barrier installed in the central reservation. For some reason, both ends of this dual carriageway had acres of hatch markings, far more than any of the later dual carriageways along the route.
There's a Little Chef at the Careston crossroads.
Brechin Bypass: Kintrockat to Keithock
The Brechin Bypass was built as single carriageway in the 1970s. Starting at a notorious bend on the old road, the by-pass takes a direct line across the northwest of the town. There were simple T-junctions for the old A94 into Brechin.
The bypass was dualled, with grade separated junctions at either end, in the 1990s. The dual carriageway has a concrete cement surface, and the central barrier is a reinforced concrete Jersey barrier. The sides of the road slope away into shallow ditches.
The new junction at Keithock consists of a deep underpass with a roundabout on either side.
Keithock to North Water Bridge
The road beyond the Brechin Bypass was also dualled fairly early, probably in the late 1970s, although again it's been improved since.
The most notable feature along this part of the road is the Stracathro services – a favourite with HGV drivers, with a selection of traditional transport café food combined with local home baking. The dual carriageway runs around the back of the service area, with a new grade separated junction (Stracathro Hospital, on the other side of the old road from the Services, is the main primary care hospital for the whole of Strathmore.)
In the woods to the north of the road is the disused Edzell airfield, for many years a radio communications and monitoring station for the US military. The golf balls have now gone, but the site is still off-limits to visitors.
The dualling here ended immediately west of the North Water Bridge.
North Water Bridge to Oatyhill
At North Water Bridge, the road follows a completely new line. The original road ran east into the village, then sharp north over the bridge (traffic lights!). After half a mile due north, it turned right towards Luther Bridge before regaining a NE heading.
The new line, on a direct route to Luther Bridge, was opened in the 1970s as single carriageway. The North Water bridge was closed to traffic, and Luther Bridge became a dead end.
A mile beyond Luther Bridge is the turning for the B974 to Fettercairn and on to Banchory via Cairn o' Mount, and an altitude of 455 m (1488ft). This is one of the first roads in Scotland to be closed by snow each winter, but is worth a detour in fine weather. The turning was originally a direct crossroads, but replaced with a long stagger when the A94 was dualled.
When this section of road was dualled in the 1990s, the North Water bridge was reopened to local traffic, thus avoiding the need for a second access off the dual carriageway.
Laurencekirk Bypass: Oatyhill to Meikle Fiddes
The longest stretch of new dual carriageway built in a single contract on the A90 was the Laurencekirk Bypass, much of it on a completely new line. Several lengths of the old road were left in use for local traffic or as service access.
The dual carriageway began just west of Oatyhill, and was the only dual-carriageway ending ever to be obviously a temporary terminus. The dual carriageway leaves the line of the old road just east of Oatyhill, crossing the railway line on a new bridge. The junction with the A937 is a staggered crossroads, similar to those previously found at Forfar, and has a very bad accident record. Sadly, fatal accidents continue to occur here, with a 50mph speed limit enforced by GATSO introduced in 2005. Locals have campaigned for a flyover to be installed, but so far Transport Scotland do not have any plans to do so.
The bypass carves a new line on a smooth curve around the east side of Laurencekirk, with another staggered junction for the B9120, to regain the original line northeast of the town. For some reason, the varying width of the central reservation is very obvious along this piece of road, as the carriageways spread apart to allow crossings, etc. The old road through Laurencekirk is still open as a local road from Oatyhill, crossing the railway with a bridge set between tight double bends. The A937 joins the road, the junction having been realigned to give priority to the A-class road, but the rest of the route through Laurencekirk is on the obvious line. There are some local services.
Between Laurencekirk and Fordoun, the dual carriageway was mainly an on-line upgrade, but from Fordoun it again takes a new line. The old road can be followed for about two miles from the Fordoun turning, crossing under the railway then back over again – apart from through the village, and the tight bends crossing the railway, the road is a perfectly good A-class single carriageway.
The dual carriageway continued on a new line, crossing and recrossing the earlier line, to Meikle Fiddes. There's a filling station (southbound only) and large parking area just beyond.
Meikle Fiddes to Grasslaw
This was one of the last parts of the route to be dualled, a last bastion of single carriageway trapped between the Laurencekirk Bypass to the south and the Stonehaven Bypass to the north.
Stonehaven Bypass: Grasslaw to Logie
The Stonehaven Bypass begins high up on the hill to the south of Stonehaven, and finishes high on the hill to the north.
The Kirkton of Fetteresso is accessed by a bridge which was built at the same time as the bypass, but it could also be reached with a staggered crossroads. After a number of serious accidents, the gap here was closed up to prevent crossing traffic, but leaving restricted access from either side. Crossing traffic now has to use the bridge.
The A957 Slug Road crosses the bypass with no access whatsoever. It leads back to Banchory, so any traffic from the south would have gone over the Cairn o' Mount instead.
However the B979, to Maryculter and Cults, does have access to and from the northbound A90. There's a T-junction halfway round the loop. The northbound access is on the steepest part of the climb, so the acceleration lane continues as a climbing lane almost to the brow of the hill.
Logie to Bridge of Muchalls
A very short stretch of dual carriageway from the early 1970s.
Bridge of Muchalls
The earliest dual carriageway along the whole route was at Bridge of Muchalls: just half a mile of new road, and three of the worst bends to be found on any NSL dual carriageway anywhere in the country, with two T-junctions thrown into the bargain. As might be expected, the old route was considerably worse: the southernmost of the three old bends can still be seen alongside the dual carriageway, although heavily overgrown, and the bottom bend at Bridge of Muchalls is still open to local traffic.
Bridge of Muchalls to Bourtreebush
Dualled in the 1960s, this road has seen minor improvements since.
Bourtreebush to South Damhead
Although planned in the 1970s, this section wasn't dualled until much later. OS maps actually removed the proposed route.
South Damhead to Bridge of Dee
This is another very early section of dual carriageway, improved to remove a series of bad bends, and also to allow overtaking on the steep climb out from Bridge of Dee.
The Bridge of Dee itself is narrow and has a 7-foot width limit. Goods vehicles must divert on a well signposted route to the next bridge downstream, then return up to the far side of the bridge on the north bank.
Original Author(s): David D Miller
Section 3: Aberdeen – Fraserburgh
Aberdeen, Anderson Drive
The middle of three ring-roads planned for Aberdeen in the 1940s, Anderson Drive was the only one built. Originally single carriageway, the road is now mostly dual-carriageway, but there are still eight roundabouts and three signal-controlled junctions between the Dee and the Don bridges, and much of the road has access to houses on both sides.
The roundabout at the Bridge of Dee is very large and very busy. The land to the west of the roundabout is now the home of a large Sainsbury's, Boots superstore, and a B&Q - and the congestion is predictable. The road west leads to Cults, and affluent suburb of Aberdeen that's still a cut above the city proper. To the east is the main road into the commercial centre of the city, and to the north is Anderson Drive.
This first bit of Anderson Drive was dualled from when it was first built, and has a 40 mph speed limit. The lamp standards are typical for Aberdeen, and form a long graceful curve out over the road. This design of the lamp standards was reputedly developed with by the corporation tram company, who had suitable equipment for making curved tram rails that they could use. To the left of the road is an area of recent flats. This was the site chosen in pre-war years for Aberdeen's Ice Rink, and construction was almost complete when war broke out in 1939. Unfortunately, the brand new building was badly damaged when a German aircraft which was shot down on top of it. It was not possible in the post-war years to repair the structure, and it was eventually removed and the flats built.
Around the corner, with the speed limit reduced to 30 mph, is the most traditional part of Anderson drive. It's two lanes undivided, with direct access from private drives on both sides of the road. The next roundabout is small, but busy, and you learn very quickly that Aberdonians don't hang around! Good lane discipline is essential, as there are normally two streams of traffic around the roundabout throughout the daytime hours.
The next junction, where the A93 crosses, is signal-controlled. The lights are phased so that A90 traffic always gets green with green arrows for left and right turns. There are only two lanes on the approach to the junction, and a considerable proportion of turning traffic.
Roundabout after roundabout follows, as the road climbs steadily. The only clue of a change in the pattern is a smooth left hand bend. In the woods to the left at this point is the Rubislaw Quarry, the great hole from which most of the granite which built Aberdeen was taken. The quarry was Europe's largest man-made hole, eclipsed only by modern strip mining, and is the largest man-made hole which sits with no current use.
Just as you're getting used to the bend comes the sudden shock of another set of traffic lights. The land to the north of the quarry was used to build the headquarters of one of the Aberdeen oil companies, and the junction with the lights provide the only access.
The "bypass" continues north with the occasional roundabout interspersed by sets of traffic lights. Anderson Drive comes to an end at the Haudagain Roundabout where we cross the A96.
Original Author(s): David D Miller
Aberdeen - Bridge Of Don
After crossing the railway line the road bends to the left to pass the cemetery then turn right at the next roundabout to cross the River Don. The road continues as typical urban S2 bypass, with a 50/40mph limit heading back eastwards along The Parkway, with regular roundabouts and a final run through an industrial estate to reach another roundabout. Here we meet the A956 again at Exhibition Centre roundabout, which has taken a shorter albeit busier route through the city centre. We turn left and continue north up the coast.
Bridge Of Don - Balmedie
The road is now dual carriageway again, and NSL for two miles, passing Bridge of Don industrial estate, then meets the B999 at a roundabout.
Shortly after this, we reach the formal Aberdeen City boundary, and pass into Aberdeenshire once more. The road is never more than a mile from the sea and occasional glimpses of it can be had to the right. There are various at grade crossings for local access. We then reach the Balmedie Bypass, which has two at-grade junctions for Balmedie at each end. The first is a right-turn for Balmedie only. The second is a staggered crossroads, with the B977 off to the left towards Dyce and Aberdeen airport, and access to Balmedie on the right. This junction is dangerous, and there is nearly always broken glass and debris in the central crossing point.
To complicate matters further, immediately after the B977 joins, the road narrows to S2. This causes daily mile-long tailbacks on weekday evenings.
Balmedie - Tipperty
Originally promised in 1992, this section will be dualled offline as part of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project, by 2018. The staggered crossroads at Balmedie will be removed, and replaced with a grade separated junction further south.
The next couple of miles are obviously on the road's original line and have not been upgraded, however some curves have been smoothed out. The road is relatively flat and not particularly winding so the drive is straightforward. The A975 turns off to the right continuing as the coast road through Newburgh and the A90 bears off to the left. We then pass through the village of Foveran, the limit being 50, cut to 20 past the school in the early mornings, lunchtimes and afternoons.
After we leave Foveran, there is a staggered crossroads with the B9000 before the road becomes dual again for 2 miles, bypassing Tipperty. The original road can still be spotted to the east in the undergrowth.
We then reach the south Ellon roundabout, where the B9005 turns left into Ellon. Until the late 1980s, traffic had to travel through Ellon to cross the river. Today, we continue right as S2 to bypass the town and cross a wide bridge over the River Ythan. The old road comes back at the next roundabout, which also provides access to Ellon's park and ride. There is an unclassified road to Auchmacoy and Collieston to the right. This was a staggered crossroads until 2001, when the A948 North Ellon Bypass was constructed.
Ellon - Peterhead
The next couple of miles are straight enough that they could have been upgraded, although there is no evidence this was ever the case. Presently, at Toll of Birness, the A90 bears off to the right at a fork. The road to the left is unusually signposted as Fraserburgh A952 (A90) - and indeed for traffic heading to the end of the road that is the quicker route (although not trunk like the A90). Our road now makes a long detour to the east and returns to the coast.
After passing to the south of Hatton the A975 is met once again. The former RAF Buchan, home of one of the UK's radar defence stations, is then passed, after which the road appears to run along the cliff top for a short distance. Buchan Ness lighthouse is clearly visible on the far side of the village of Boddam, although we pass through the adjacent village of Stirling (not to be confused with the city of that name further south). We then pass Peterhead power station before reaching a roundabout at the southern edge of the Peterhead bypass.
The A90 turns left, with the A982 running ahead into Peterhead itself. The bypass manages to avoid the majority of the town, although some buildings are visible, and there is no vehicular access from the bypass to any residential area except via the classified roads. After crossing the A950 at a roundabout the suburb of Waterside is passed and the A90 reaches a T-junction. Here it meets the A982 back from the town centre and TOTSOs left.
Peterhead - Fraserburgh
Rural almost immediately, the A90 continues north and quickly crosses the River Ugie. After passing the village of St Fergus and its gas terminal the road turns inland once more. It goes through the centre of Crimond before meeting the B9033 which goes to Fraserburgh by a more roundabout route. Presently the road reaches another T-junction back on the A952 and TOTSOs right.
Now on its final stretch northwards, the A90 passes Rathen and meets the B9032 which is the closest Fraserburgh gets to a classified bypass. After skirting the grounds of Philorth House a roundabout is reached where we meet the B9033 once more on the edge of Fraserburgh. An unclassified road turns left skirting the town and is signposted as a bypass. Ahead is only the town centre and the A90.
We pass through a sporting complex, between a football pitch and cricket field, before the A951 joins from the left. The road continues north along Saltoun Place. There are a couple of sets of traffic lights before the end of the A90, at another set of lights on the A98 High Street. All traffic is signposted to turn left; right is the back streets and the harbour.
The A90 originally only ran from Edinburgh to Perth. Indeed, much of this section has been upgraded and so the only part of the A90 that still runs along its original 1922 route is the bit between Queensferry Street in Edinburgh and the bridge over the River Almond (from there to the B924 junction old and new roads run parallel and from there on the routes diverge; they return again very rarely.
The original A90 followed what is now the B924 into Queensferry where it went under the Forth Bridge and immediately set sail on the ferry to North Queensferry (with the road ahead on the right bank being the B902. The use of a ferry to go north meant that most Edinburgh to Perth traffic used the A9 via Stirling and so the A90 was less important. However, the opening of the Forth Road Bridge in 1964 changed all that. New approaches were built on each side and the old road renumbered as B924 in the south and B981 in the north.
The bridge also brought about the upgrade of the road north to Perth. A short section of the northern approach road was actually opened under motorway characteristics as the M90 and as that road was built further north the parallel A90 was downgraded. The old road from North Queensferry to Perth is therefore now the B981, A909 through Cowdenbeath, B996 to Kinross, a short section of A922, B996 again as far as the A912 and then that road through Bridge of Earn into Perth. The southern section of the A989 ring road was also originally the A90; the road ended on the A9 (now A93) York Place.
With the completion of the M90 as far as Perth the A90 actually became quite an unimportant road: the only section used by anything but local traffic was the Forth Road Bridge. However, things were to change.
The main road up the east coast from Perth to Fraserburgh had been trunked for many years - but the road number changed several times and the road itself was not of particularly good quality for a major through route. For this reason the road was gradually upgraded to become a dual carriageway at least as far as Aberdeen. This was completed in the 1980s and it was then decided to give the whole thing a single number. As the "90" number was in use on the section from Edinburgh to Perth that was the number given to the whole road. The original numbers in use here were A85 from Perth to Dundee (the M85 also became M90 as part of this renumbering); A972 Dundee bypass; A929 to Forfar; A94 to Stonehaven; A92 to Fraserburgh. Actually, the A92 took the direct route to Fraserburgh avoiding Peterhead, with the A952 detouring to the town; in this area the A952 was also taken over by the A90, with the ex-A92 being renumbered as the A952.
So, the A90 (and the M90 with it) now forms the main road north of Edinburgh and only really suffers lack of quality in Aberdeen. A bypass is now in the planning stage, which will leave the current A90 at Stonehaven, continue north to Dyce and then head east to reach the A90 again at Blackdog.
- The A90 Trunk Road (Charleston to Blackdog) Detrunking (Variation) Order 2017
- The A90/A9000 Trunk Road (Forth Road Bridge) (Prohibitions on Use and Stopping) Order 2018
- The A90 Trunk Road (Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing Approach Roads) (Prohibitions on Use and Stopping and Bus Lane) Order 2018
- The A90/A9000 Trunk Roads (Forth Road Bridge, and Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge Approach Roads) (Speed Limits) Order 2018