Works to improve safety measures at a notorious hairpin bend on the Berriedale Braes in the Highlands begin today.
Contractors R J MacLeod will conduct a series of blast works on the east Highland route from 1pm to determine the underlying condition of the A9 stretch.
The long-awaited project is part of a £9.6 million upgrade aimed at minimising the increased safety risks posed to commuting motorists struggling to manoeuvre round the tight bend.
Highlands and Islands MSP Gail Ross said: “The realignment of Berriedale Braes is something that locals in Caithness have campaigned for for over 50 years.
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“Past governments have dithered over whether to even begin the process but the safety issue has been plain to see.
“Thanks to the SNP Scottish Government we finally have some action. It’s great to see after so many years and I’m sure it will be widely welcomed by everyone.”
A total of four small-scale trial rocks blasts will be conducted over several hours with motorists being warned to expect partial delays until around 3.30pm.
Each test is estimated to last around 10 minutes as part of ongoing efforts to refrain from long delays for motorists travelling on the busy route.
All road users will be held back at either end of the site while the blasts are conducted, with the road expected to reopen in a matter of minutes following a series of safety checks.
The tests are the first to be undertaken in preparation for the extensive alterations to transform the notorious bend which in recent years has been pinpointed as a prime accident hotspot.
Kevin Knox, project manager from Transport Scotland said: “This investigation work is essential to inform the contractor’s plan for excavating the rock later this year to construct the improvements required to remove the hairpin bend.
“The temporary measures being put in place for the work are precautionary to ensure the health and safety of the public.
“The contractor will endeavour to carry out this work as efficiently as possible to minimise the delay and we would ask for the cooperation of the travelling public during this time.”
Construction is expected to be underway by the end of the year prior to its completions by spring 2020.