Transport Scotland announced the intention to award a contract worth up to £50 million to carry out route option assessment and detailed design work for dualling the 26-mile eastern section of the A96 between east of Huntly and Aberdeen.
Cabinet Secretary for Economy Keith Brown said: “We are fully committed to dualling the A96, some 86 miles of upgraded road between Inverness and Aberdeen, by 2030.
“The fact that four tenderers, including joint ventures, competed for this major contract is evidence of the interest in the market engendered by the infrastructure improvements this Government is delivering across the country including in the north.
“This major design contract marks a further milestone towards the dualling of the A96 with all the investment and improvements that it will bring to local economies right across the north of Scotland.
“Road users will not only enjoy the benefits of improved journey time and reliability, better connectivity between destinations but also, crucially, improved road safety for all those who use this key artery connecting two of Scotland’s economic hubs.”
Amey Arup Joint Venture is expected to start design work on the project next month.
Brown added: “In addition, this contract will also provide a huge boost for the local and national economy, with the successful bidder securing steady work for years to come and many more opportunities for small and medium enterprises through subcontracted work.
“We are at the same time progressing the design work for the Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) and also the western section of the route between Hardmuir and Fochabers, having recently let locals and road users see and comment on the options being taken forward for the western section with a view to identifying a preferred route option next year.”