THE Scottish Government yesterday gave the green light to the construction of a £31.5 million bypass which will rid the main Aberdeen to Inverness road of one of its most notorious bottlenecks – 55 years after the road was first proposed.
The new three-mile single carriageway, skirting the villages of Fochabers and Mosstodloch in Moray, will cut the amount of traffic driving through the two communities by about 10,000 vehicles a day.
Campaigners claim the bypass will result in a major economic boost for local businesses by ending congestion on Fochabers' main thoroughfare.
Transport minister Stewart Stevenson announced that the contract for the major improvement on the A96 had been awarded to Inverness-based Morrison Construction.
He said: "The award of the A96 Fochabers to Mosstodloch contract is yet another example of our continuing investment in Scotland's transport infrastructure and is helping the hard-pressed construction sector.
"This stretch of new road will improve links for communities locally, and between Inverness and Aberdeen, bringing economic benefits across the North," he added.
"Our commitment to improved links across Scotland is clear, and the undoubted benefits to be reaped will be felt across the North by communities and businesses alike."
Mr Stevenson stressed that further improvements to the busy road linking the two cities were in the pipeline.
He said: "We are currently working with Highland Council reviewing proposals for dualling the A96 Inverness to Nairn, a Nairn bypass and a bypass on the east of Inverness linking the A9 to the A96. Work is also progressing well with Moray Council to review ways of addressing congestion in and around Elgin."
Richard Lochhead, the MSP for Moray, welcomed the go-ahead for the long-awaited scheme. He said: "The communities of Fochabers and Mosstodloch have fought long and hard for a bypass, and I am delighted that an SNP government has been able to deliver this project.
"I know that the people who have campaigned so hard for this will be delighted that we have reached this important day."
Work on the scheme is expected to begin later this year.