Construction work has begun on the A9, marking the start of a project to upgrade the road to dual carriageway between Inverness and Perth.
Five miles (8km) of road from Kincraig to Dalraddy, south of Aviemore, will be the first of 12 sections to be tackled.
The scheme, costing £3billion, has been described by the Scottish government as the biggest ever transport project undertaken in Scotland.
It is not expected to be completed until 2025.
— Transport Scotland (@transcotland) September 10, 2015
Around 80 miles of road will be upgraded.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Keith Brown said: “With the official opening of the Borders Railway and now the ground-breaking of work on the A9 this has been a historic week for transport infrastructure in Scotland.
“It is no understatement to say that we are marking an important milestone in what will be one of the largest and most challenging infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history.
“I am very proud that the Scottish Government is delivering this major upgrade and, in the weeks and months ahead, people will now see work on the ground as the road progresses.
“When this ambitious programme is complete, enormous economic and social benefits will be felt by communities along the length of the road, and beyond. Today sees the first spade in the ground, with work beginning in earnest to see the programme through to a successful finish.
“Shorter term safety improvements for the A9 are already delivering positive benefits for the safety of the route, with preparation work on further dualling work also now starting to bear real fruit.
“With nearly three quarters of a million tonnes of excavation work to be carried out on this section here at Kincraig alone, we are at the start of a long journey to deliver the entire programme. But we are committed to this programme and we will remain focussed to ensure this work which is now at the hard end of construction, is seen through to a successful conclusion.”
Over 700,000 tonnes of excavation will take place during the long awaited improvements with over 18 hectares of new road carriageway laid, the equivalent of 25 full size football pitches.
A spokesperson for the contractors handling the project, Wills Bros / John Paul Joint Venture said: “Whilst some disruption to road users is unavoidable we would like to thank in advance the driving public and local communities for their patience and co-operation while we deliver this first leg of the A9 dualling programme.”