Campaigners remain committed to trying to influence an upgrade of one of the north of Scotland’s busiest roads – despite the imminent announcement of the preferred route.
Transport Scotland will unveil its favoured choice for an upgraded A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road between the east of Auldearn and Fochabers today.
The move will trigger another round of consultation about the project before the route of the 28-mile section through Moray is confirmed.
Campaigners in Forres have repeatedly attempted to persuade the design team that extra local knowledge could help to map its path around the town – where three possible options currently exist.
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The Forres Area A96 Dualling Action Group has been pressing for “co-creative” status for the project, which would involve members holding discussions with roads bosses about the proposals.
Member Susie Minto said: “As a route-neutral group, our aim has been to persuade Transport Scotland to look at the area around Forres in greater detail so that they understand the design sensitivities.
“We’ve been fobbed off with off-the-shelf answers for seven month. Time and again we receive the same responses and excuses.
“However, we are ever hopeful. The A9 community consultation at Dunkeld and Birnam was a late decision, similar to where things are at with our section of the A96.”
Uncertainties about bypasses to the north and south of Forres and Elgin as well as the site of another bridge over the River Spey are expected to be eased by today’s announcement.
Exhibitions were held during October to show several options for the upgraded A96 between Huntly and Aberdeen.
A preferred route has already chosen between Inverness and Nairn while options between Fochabers and Huntly are expected to be announced next year.
The Scottish Government wants to have the road completely open by 2030.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “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.”
Representatives from the team drawing up plans for the road will be at the Mansefield Hotel in Elgin today and tomorrow from noon to 7pm.
Further events will be held on Thursday at the Speymouth Hall in Mosstodloch from noon to 6pm and at Forres Town Hall on Friday from noon to 7pm.