LONG-AWAITED work has started on the A90 dual carriageway project between Balmedie and Tipperty.
Initial preparations have been signalled by the appearance of drilling equipment at various locations alongside the route.
Ministers gave the improvements the green light last year but building work has been delayed with the scheme caught up in the wrangle over the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR). A decision on the bypass is due later this year following a long-running legal battle.
Local community leaders have repeatedly voiced concern at the hold-up to the Balmedie-Tipperty development through its link to the bypass package.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Ground investigation works have started on the A90 at Balmedie-Tipperty. These works will bring the scheme up to the same level of readiness as the AWPR.
“On completion, the dualling scheme will deliver improved safety, better connections and more reliable journey times for anyone using this section of the A90 north of Aberdeen.”
Ellon and District councillor Richard Thomson welcomed the initial work.
He said: “It’s very pleasing to see the first contractors on site, doing the vital preparatory work before major construction gets underway.
“Upgrading Balmedie-Tipperty as part of the same package of work as the AWPR has always been the most sensible and cost effective way to deliver these improvements.
“I hope that the Supreme Court is able to rule soon on the remaining legal challenge, so that we can get on with delivering these vital pieces of infrastructure.”
Duncan Milne, secretary of Foveran Community Council, described it as a hopeful sign.
He said: “I think it is a sensible approach. They are doing what they can pending the result in the courts on the AWPR. We can only keep our fingers crossed.”