New ground will be broken today as work begins in earnest on dualling the notorious A9.
Infrastructure minister Keith Brown MSP will mark the start of work on a five-mile stretch between Kincraig and Dalraddy, signalling the beginning of a decade of construction to dual the road between Inverness and Perth at a cost of £3billion.
But while motorists need to wait for the benefits, a north school will soon benefit from the major contract with a new sports field and other spin-offs from the work.
Alvie Primary School in Kincraig will see a new all-weather sports pitch, climbing wall and environmental garden all built as part a community engagement scheme linked to the roads project.
The construction work will be a joint venture by Wills Bros Civil Engineering and John Paul Construction, who will build the new stretch of road south of Aviemore for £35million – £15million less than the original estimate.
It is expected that the Kincraig to Dalraddy stretch will take around two years to complete because of restrictions on construction due to its locations within the Cairngorms National Park.
Mr Brown announced that work was ready to get under way on a previous visit to the north last month.
He said: “Obviously there is a fair bit ofimpatience and that’sunderstandable, as this road should have been dualled decades ago in my view.
“But it hasn’t been and it’s the spinal route between the north and south of the country, it’s economically extremely important and it should have been done decades ago.
The five mile stretch is the first stage of a project to dual the entire length of the route between Inverness and Perth by 2025.
Traffic will be managed during the roadworks by mobile average speed cameras, with the existing permanent camera to be disabled during the works.