THE proposed new design for a notorious stretch of the A9 in Caithness has been put out for public consultation.
Preliminary investigations have taken place at the Berriedale Braes, where the road currently drops from 130 metres as it enters a valley at the village.
Vehicles then have to negotiate a hairpin bend, before rising steeply again.
Local MSP Rob Gibson welcomed the publication of a design to improve the bend, saying it has taken 40 years to reach this stage.
The Caithness, Sutherland and Ross SNP politician said: “The Berriedale bends have long been a nagging concern for many travelling by road to and from Caithness.
“The preferred option is the latest step forward. I welcome steady progress towards easier trunk road access to Caithness.”
A public exhibition is being held at Berriedale to give people the opportunity to view the proposals and provide their comments.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The natural geography at Berriedale Braes, with a steep gradient and hairpin bend, is a very challenging road alignment, especially for HGVs and other long vehicles.
“The fact that a preferred option is now on display is clear evidence of our commitment to find a solution and improve this important section of the road between Inverness and Thurso.
“Couple this with our £3 billion investment to dual over 80 miles of the route between Perth and Inverness - the first government ever to commit to do so – underlines just how hard we are working to upgrade the A9.
“We will continue to work with our partners to progress the Berriedale Braes scheme as a matter of urgency, and once we have considered all the comments to our proposals, push on and publish the final scheme outline later this year.”
Both Transport Scotland and The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are investing £100,000 in the design work, with Highland Council and HITRANS both providing £10,000 for the project.
Mr Gibson added: “Bear in mind there’s been forty years or so of talk on this matter but it is only in the last three years that we are seeing some concrete actions to help solve it.”