A reduced shortlist of options to dual the A96 between Aberdeen and Huntly has been revealed by Transport Scotland.
Proposals to improve the 26-mile route on the A96, which would bypass Inverurie, have been under intense discussion in the local Aberdeenshire community in recent months.
The project is part of a project designed to dual 88 miles of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen.
Transport Scotland has proposed a number of possible routes which a new dual carriageway A96 could take, both south, north and along the existing road.
However, local campaigners have appealed for the transport body to instead focus on dualling the road along the current route instead of “carving” a new road through the “beautiful countryside” of the region.
Yesterday, the newest shortlist of options were revealed in Inverurie.
Since the plans last went to public consultation, two key road proposals – the blue and green options – have now been dropped.
The two roads would have extended significantly north of the current A96, between Inverurie and Colpy, running closer past the south of Oldmeldrum.
The remaining list of options are closer to the existing Aberdeen to Huntly road.
The Scottish Government’s transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “Having let local communities see and comment on a series of options last October, we have now reduced the number of options for this challenging section of the A96.
“We have also made some changes to the options being taken forward as a result of the feedback we have received.
“The preferred option will be comprised of a combination of the remaining sections to form a continuous route between Huntly and Aberdeen.”
Mel Roberts from the A96 Action group said: “We are pleased to see that the blue and green routes north of Inverurie have been deselected.
“This, however, does not address what we consider to be a core north route issue – potentially 28 miles of new grade-separated dual carriageway being carved out through some of the richest farmland and most beautiful countryside in the Garioch.”
The public is invited to see the new plans at drop-in sessions this week, from noon to 7pm.
They will take place at Wyness Hall in Inverurie today, at Kinellar Community Hall in Blackburn tomorrow, and the Gordon Arms Hotel in Huntly on Friday.