Hundreds of people have been helping shape the future Inverness road network.
Six options for linking the A9 and A96 have been presented to connect Inshes on the west side of the city with Smithton on the east side of the A9.
Choices for a single carriageway, ranging hugely in price, were showcased at Inshes Church. The “East Link” exhibition today moves to Smithton Free Church between noon and 7pm.
The link could release new land for development and give motorists an easier journey.
The project is a feature element of the so-called Inverness City Region Deal which promises to unlock £315million of investment in the Highland capital and surrounding areas.
Various options were considered two years ago. Since then, the government agency Transport Scotland sought designs. The timescale for completion is unclear.
The various options range in price from £25million to £55million, largely dependent on the scale of earthworks and the length of road involved. As well as linking the two trunk routes, the scheme must cross the Inverness-Perth rail line.
It would also eventually link to the A82 Fort William road via the southern distributor and West Link, which is currently being built.
Option 2 is the most expensive and Option 3 the least costly.
Project manager Craig Cameron said: “All we’re committed to at the moment is to announce the preferred option in 2017.
“It’s not particularly challenging from an engineering point of view. It’s the interaction with the local road network that’s key to this scheme and we’re working closely with Highland Council.
“I’m encouraged by the number of people here today. It’s absolutely vital that people take a look, as the people that use the network and interact with the trunk road traffic.”
There was a steady flow of visitors to day one of the exhibition although few appeared to leave with a personal preferred option.
Rev Donald Boyd, a former chairman of Westhill Community Council, was however impressed with the display.
“It’s a far better consultation than that for the West Link,” he said, “because people have clearly listened and taken on board what has been said so far.”
Full details of the A9/A96 Inshes-Smithton scheme are online at http://www.transport.gov.scot/project/a9a96-inshes-smithton