Work to dual the most northerly section of the A9 has stepped up a gear with a £1million design contract being awarded.
Ground investigations between Tomatin and Moy is expected to begin next month and will last around seven weeks.
The work on the section, which is more than five miles in length, will be carried out by Soil Engineering Geoservices Ltd.
It is the first of a series of ground investigations to be carried out along the road between Inverness and Perth over the course of the summer.
The Tomatin to Moy stretch will fill the gap between the existing dual carriageways at Inverness-Moy and Tomatin-Carrbridge.
It has comparatively few constraints compared to other sections along the A9, but identified issues include the presence of peat and a number of access junctions and crossing points.
Last night transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “The A9 Dualling programme between Perth and Inverness is one of the largest and most challenging infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history and I am proud we are the first government to commit to this ambitious engineering enterprise.
“These ground investigations will support the ongoing design work for the northern stretch of the route between Tomatin and Moy which is constrained at a number of locations.
“As well as the ongoing construction of the 7.5km (five miles) Kincraig to Dalraddy scheme, we are working hard to identify preferred routes for the dualling schemes having already let the public see the proposed designs for three sections earlier this year.
“As we continue progressing design work, we will be carrying out ground investigations across the programme over the next few months. Some of this work will take place on or near the live carriageway, so we will need to introduce traffic management arrangements to ensure the safety of both road workers and road users.
“The public will be kept informed of our plans and we will endeavour to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum.”
Public exhibitions were held for the Tomatin to Moy section in August and October last year.
Although the final route is still to be decided, it was suggested that the work would mainly involve widening the northbound side of the existing route, with main junctions considered at Tomatin north, Moy south and Moy north.