Transport Scotland is poised to strike a milestone deal for the first construction phase of its A9 dualling programme.
The trunk roads authority said it is ready to award a contract for upgrading a five-mile stretch between Kincraig and Dalraddy in the Highlands, the initial stage of the £3 billion scheme.
The work to be completed by Wills Bros Civil Engineering and John Paul Construction will cost £35 million, which is £15m less than the Scottish Government originally estimated.
The work will involve widening the stretch, transforming it from a single to dual carriageway.
Cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities Keith Brown said this was a significant milestone and, subject to a mandatory standstill period, the contract will be awarded to the joint partnership within weeks.
“The Scottish Government’s ambitious programme for the A9 between Perth to Inverness is now well under way with dualling set to start on the first section shortly and designs now at various stages along the route,” he said.
“The ground investigations due to start next month between Glen Garry and Dalraddy will also help inform the ongoing design work for the central section of the A9.
“We have been able to again make considerable savings on one of our infrastructure projects, following significant contract awards for the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project and the AWPR/Balmedie- Tipperty last year, due to our robust procurement process, which ensures that all the efficiencies that can be put in place have been implemented.”
Mr Brown added: “The improved road will provide overtaking opportunities in both directions, cutting the number of vehicle convoys and reducing driver frustration. It will also support businesses, communities and tourism throughout Scotland by improving access to and from the Highlands.”
The £1.1m contract for ground investigations between Glen Garry and Dalraddy is expected to be awarded to Raeburn Drilling and Geotechnical.
This work will start six months earlier than planned, thanks to savings made from the Scottish Government’s Queensferry Crossing project.
Construction at the southern section of the project will run mainly in parallel, to west of the A9, before crossing over and providing widening to the east of the route where it meets with the northern section.
Last month Transport Scotland announced details of a massive treasure hunt at the site of the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie.
The A9 already runs through the battlefield, near Pitlochry, but the dualling scheme will cut into more of the land where Jacobites famously clashed with government troops.