Campaigners claim hard-up Highland Council could save tens of millions of pounds – by scrapping its controversial choice of route for a city bypass.
Objectors have already branded the “Option 6” plan for a road skirting around the west of the city a “costly mistake”.
And they insist it is still not too late for the local authority to change course.
Former councillor Katrina Coutts and other campaigners have closely monitored the various options for the new road, which will link the busy A9 and A82.
Mrs Coutts has argued that a fixed bridge crossing would be the most logical solution to avoid the replacement of existing swing bridges at Tomnahurich and Muirtown.
Highland Council has agreed to instal a second swing bridge at Tomnahurich.
Mrs Coutts claims that £43million could be saved by canceling a proposed tandem bridge arrangement and switching to the rejected “Option 7”.
She believes that it – minus a tandem bridge arrangement considered by the council – would prevent significant traffic congestion in the future.
But the project has already been backed by the council and preparatory work has started.
A spokeswoman for the local authority said yesterday that an announcement was expected imminently on contract tenders for the first phase of construction.
The council maintains that the project, which is being funded by its capital programme and with “limited impact” on its revenue budget, will “deliver significant benefits for Inverness and the wider Highlands”.
But as the dust clears after a stormy week in which the council agreed its toughest budget in modern times to achieve £50million of savings in 2016-17, Mrs Coutts, of Craggie Farm, Daviot, said: “The public have to rise up against this.
“Otherwise, you’ll have drivers going down Glenurquhart Road for evermore because they’ll have built houses on the only place you can put the bridge.
“Do nothing and the new development at Holm and ever-increasing traffic volumes will unacceptably overburden the present A82 through three residential streets – Glenurquhart Road, Tomnahurich Street and Kenneth Street, joining the A9 at the Kessock Bridge.”
But the council’s community services chairman, Allan Henderson, last night dismissed the idea out of hand.
“The Highlands would be a much poorer place to live if previous councils did not have the foresight to secure the land and dual carriageway from Inshes to Dores,” he said.
“How Aberdonians wish their planners and councillors had had such brilliant foresight.
“It is always easy to take the ‘don’t do’ option. But there has always been space in Highland Council capital programmes for foresight.
“With places such as Fort William and Rosemarkie desperate for bypasses we need to get on with the city one.
“It will help bring in benefits from the City Deal. Perversely, with austerity, projects have seldom been cheaper to finance.”