THE first of three design contracts for the A9 dualling project, which are collectively worth up to £180 million, has been awarded to Colorado-based CH2MHill and Glasgow firm Fairhurst.
CH2MHill and Fairhurst will design a 27-mile dual carriageway section between Glen Garry, near Drumochter summit, and Dalraddy, south of Aviemore.
Like the other two contracts, it is worth between £40m and £60m, and forms part of the scheme to dual the remaining 80 miles of the road between Perth and Inverness by 2025 at a total cost of £3 billion.
The other design contracts will cover Birnham to Glen Garry, and Dalraddy to Inverness.
A separate, ground investigation contract for a five-mile section near Birnham has been awarded to Lancashire-based Soil Engineering.
Transport minister Keith Brown said: “The appointment of the first design consultancy for this mammoth project marks another significant milestone in this Government’s commitment to the project.
“As well as delivering faster and more reliable journey times and road safety improvements when complete, the design work offers the prospect of steady work for many years ahead for the three successful contractors.
“There will also be many opportunities for small and medium enterprises through sub-consultancy work, and the winning bidder has also committed to providing 35 full-time roles and 28 summer placement opportunities for apprentices, work experience students and graduates.
The first section to be dualled will be five miles between Dalraddy and Kincraig, in 2015-16.
Mr Brown announced last month a further 18 miles would be ready for dualling in 2017: a seven-mile section between Pitagowan, near House of Bruar, and Glengarry; five miles between Dalwhinnie and Crubenmore; and six miles between Tomatin and Moy.
He also said the new dual carriageway sections would now be built solely within the 200-metre-wide A9 corridor and not on separate land, following community concerns.