LOCAL communities are being urged to have their say on the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to dual the remaining 86 miles of the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness.
The mammoth roads project, expected to cost £3 billion, is due to be completed by 2030 - just five years after a scheme to finish dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness, also costing £3bn.
Last month Transport Scotland announced that a contractor had been appointed to study the environmental impacts of the proposed dualling scheme.
And today the agency unveiled plans for a series of roadshows on the road improvement scheme which be launched next Tuesday in Nairn.
Keith Brown, the Scottish Transport Minister, said: “In May this year, I set out how the A96 dualling programme will be driven forward. The outline strategy identified packages of design and development work to be progressed over the next few years with the objective of completing the full dualling between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030.
“Already we are seeing progress, with consultants appointed for preparatory engineering and environmental work and aerial surveys underway along the route.”
He continued: “We aim to keep up this momentum by giving the public a chance to comment at the early stages of this vital project for the north of the country and for Scotland as a whole. I look forward to seeing the exhibition material next Monday before the roadshows get underway on Tuesday.”
Mr Brown said: “I would encourage anyone with an interest to visit one of the exhibitions over the next few weeks and help ensure local needs are reflected as we develop the dualling programme.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “As the A96 bisects a number of communities, dualling the road will require bypasses around Forres, Elgin, Keith and Inverurie. Following the completion of the initial design work in about 12-18 months’ time, detailed route options will be progressed and preferred routes for these bypasses identified at the earliest opportunity.
“All this work will include a rolling programme of regular engagement with local communities and other stakeholders, starting with the public exhibitions in November.This will ensure the businesses and individuals affected by the work are kept fully informed and their important feedback is taken into account as we design, procure and construct. “
The roadshows will be held on 12 November at the Golf View Hotel in Nairn; 13 November - Town House, Inverness; 15 November, Ramnee Hotel, Forres; 19 November - Longmore Hotel , Keith; 20 November - Ashgrove Public Hall, Elgin; 21 November - Gordon Arms, Huntly; 27 November - Dyce Parish Church Hall; 28 November -Acorn Centre, Inverurie; 29 November - Fochabers Institute.