A major road safety study on the A9 Inverness to Thurso road is to get underway, with local campaigners welcoming the announcement.
The study, which will address the notorious Munlochy junction on the major trunk road, will focus on the stretch between North Kessock and the Tore roundabout.
It has been the scene of many major accidents over the years, with one incident shortly before Christmas last year claiming the life of Inverness schoolboy Gregor McIntosh.
The 16-year-old, who was a passenger, was killed in a three-vehicle collision on the route on Friday, December 20.
The study is being undertaken by engineering consultants WSP, who will report back Transport Scotland with their recommendations.
WSP is engaging with local stakeholders, and will also “review and analyse all the data relating to the safety, operation and suitability of this stretch of road to meet current and future demands”.
The consultants will determine if there is a case for change and, if so, the study will progress to consider what potential engineering interventions could be further investigated to address an issues identified.
It is understood future developments along the route will be taken into consideration when determining if any changes will be implemented.
Black Isle MSP Kate Forbes, who has been spearheading calls for improvements, said: “Because traffic was drastically reduced during the early stages of the pandemic, coupled with the lockdown measures, some of the work had to be put on hold and progress has not been as fast as everyone would’ve liked.
“Against that backdrop, I am pleased that WSP’s study is now underway and they will be assessing the long-term options along the North Kessock to Tore roundabout stretch of the A9 – including the Munlochy junction.
“I remain committed to ensuring this junction is safer.
“I know it is a significant cause of concern for many Black Isle residents as well as other regular road users travelling on the A9, and I will continue my campaign for improvements here.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We have appointed WSP to understand the issues and opportunities for the A9 between North Kessock and Tore Roundabout.
“Both Transport Scotland and WSP look forward to engaging with stakeholders as part of this important study.”