Groundwork has started on a section of the much heralded project to dual the A9 Perth to Inverness road.
Transport Minister Keith Brown was in Dunkeld this morning to see the start of investigations on the five-mile section between Birnam and Tay Crossing.
The findings will provide detailed information for the scheme’s design.
Work is due to start on dualling a separate section between Birnam and Luncarty in 2017 and will be completed in 2019.
Mr Brown’s visit coincided with the start of public exhibitions across the Highlands about the project.
Controversial work to install average speed cameras on single carriageway sections of the trunk route also got underway yesterday.
Mr Brown said: “Our commitment to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness is unwavering, and underlined in recent weeks with the first of three multi-million pound design contracts awarded, and the remaining two expected before the year is out.
“I’ve seen for myself today the start of ground investigations work for the section between Birnam and Tay Crossing which is vital to help inform the design process and help move towards publishing the draft orders next year. This section presents some particular challenges and we are working hard to minimise any impacts to properties, the railway and the environment.
“Work already carried out to shape the package of schemes which make up the A9 dualling programme has ensured the statutory approvals process is as efficient as it can be. We need to build on that work by developing in more detail a range of route options for nine of the schemes making up the programme.
“We are taking an exhibition out on the road to venues along the A9 to discuss our plans with local communities in more detail, and identify any local issues.
“A lot of design and assessment work still needs to be done before we can finalise the scheme alignment, but sharing these route options now will ensure that any feedback is captured early.”
Mr Brown added: “With ground investigations underway for the Birnam to Tay Crossing scheme, the Luncarty to Pass of Birnam section scheduled for completion in 2019 and route options now on public display for the nine other sections, we are on track to meeting our ambitious target of finishing over half of the dualling programme by 2022 with completion by 2025.”