The Scottish Government has revealed that sections of the Aberdeen bypass could open before its planned completion date.
Transport Minister Keith Brown (pictured) has indicated that work on some parts, including the dualling the Balmedie-Tipperty section of the A90, may be brought forward.
The £635 million bypass project is due to be finished by the spring of 2018, but Transport Scotland has been pressed to finish stretches of the route sooner.
Mr Brown appears to have listened to calls by lobbying groups.
He said: “By summer we hope to be in a position to announce the preferred bidder who will build the new road.
“Once they have been selected we will then be in a position to look at what refinements can be made to the delivery programme for certain elements of the scheme.”
The minister added: “There is no cast-iron guarantee I can give at this stage, but we will do everything we can to work with the preferred bidder to see what can be done without compromising the project completion date of spring, 2018, or produce unnecessary disruption or congestion.
“Where possible, this could mean sections of the new road opening earlier than the completion date and benefits for road users being delivered much sooner.”
Meanwhile, ministers are allocating £500,000 to the A947 Mini-Interchange Hubs project in Aberdeenshire.
It will provide access to public transport for rural communities not directly served by a bus service.
The funding is part of £4.2 million package of improvements to bus services across Scotland.