A major project to improve a North-east traffic bottleneck has moved a stage closer.
Tenders are being sought for the main contract - worth around £11 million - for the A96 Inveramsay Bridge scheme near Inverurie.
Construction is expected to start by the end of the year and last about a year.
It will involve the building of a new realigned section of the A96 trunk road and road bridge over the Aberdeen to Inverness railway, ensuring free-flowing traffic.
The improvements will help to cut congestion, improve journey time reliability and traffic flow.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “This is further good news for road users in the North-east. We have always aimed to get construction underway at Inveramsay Bridge by the end of 2014 and by starting the procurement process we are ensuring that we remain on target.
“Road users will be delighted to hear that this notorious bottleneck on one of the North-east’s busiest roads will be subject to a series of improvements that will ultimately enhance their driving experience.”
He added: “This is not an easy task as the scheme will involve complex engineering works during the construction phase. The appointed contractor will be required to build a new bridge structure over the existing railway as part of the new 1.5 km road.”
First Minister and Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond said: “The A96 is a vital lifeline to communities across the north east, and these works will not only improve journey times but also increase safety; and boost the local economy.
“This junction has long been a thorn in the side of commuters and other drivers in the north east. It has proved a significant nuisance to agricultural traffic headed to facilities around Inverurie.”