Construction has begun on a $4.6bn plan to turn the two-lane A9 in north-east Scotland into a 128km dual carriageway.
The first element to undertaken is an 8km stretch between Kincraig and Dalraddy, to be finished by summer 2017. This $55m project will require more than 700,000 tonnes of excavation, and will be carried out by a joint venture between Wills Bros Civil Engineering and John Paul Construction.
Keith Brown, the secretary for infrastructure in the Scottish government, said: "It is no understatement to say that we are marking an important milestone in what will be one of the largest and most challenging infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history. Â
"I am very proud that the Scottish government is delivering this major upgrade and, in the weeks and months ahead, people will now see work on the ground as the road progresses. Â
"When this ambitious programme is complete, enormous economic and social benefits will be felt by communities along the length of the road, and beyond."
When the road is complete in 2025 it will run between Perth and Inverness on the eastern fringe of the Scottish Highlands.
Image: The A9 near Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland (Phillip Capper/Wikimedia Commons)