The final decision on a major upgrade to Moray’s busiest road will be unveiled early next month.
Transport Scotland has announced it will unveil its preferred route for an A96 Aberdeen to Inverness dual carriageway through the region on December 4.
A series of events have been scheduled to showcase where the new road could go on the 28-mile section between Hardmuir, west of Brodie, and Fochabers.
The Scottish Government agency has pledged to let residents and motorists have their say on the issue before the choice is finalised.
Yesterday, Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Marc Macrae, a former chairman of Moray Council’s planning committee, explained it was important the best option was chosen, not just the cheapest.
He said: “This is not going to be a big project and the land for the road will still need to be secured, which may involve compulsory purchase orders, so I think we’re still a few years away from spades going in the ground.
“I know there’s still a lot of concern about whether north or south routes are chosen for bypasses at Elgin and Forres and what impact that will have on housing developments.
“The uncertainty has already affected property prices in Urquhart.
“The effect of these decisions will last long into the future, so it needs to be right for years to come, not necessarily just the cheapest at the moment.”
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The Forres Area A96 Community Group remains hopeful it can be involved in helping to choose the final option for the new road.
The Scottish Government has set a target for completing the project between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Following detailed assessment work and feedback received following public exhibitions and design updates, we are now able to present the preferred option for this scheme.
“As the scheme is further progressed, individuals, communities and businesses affected by the work will be kept fully informed and their vital feedback taken into account.”
Exhibitions have been scheduled for Tuesday, December 4 and Wednesday, December 5 at the Mansefield Hotel in Elgin, on Thursday, December 6 at the Speymouth Hall in Mosstodloch and on Friday, December 7 at Forres Town Hall.
The Elgin and Forres events run from noon to 7pm, while the Mosstodloch exhibition will run from noon to 6pm.