Transport Scotland has started the process to appoint a multi-disciplinary consultant to take forward the development, assessment and promotion of the preferred option for A96 Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) scheme.
Details of the preferred option are expected to be announced this October.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The Scottish Government has given a clear commitment to dual the A96 by 2030, delivering around 86 miles of upgraded road between Inverness and Aberdeen.
“This contract when awarded will be worth at worth at least £30 million, and reinforces our determination to invest in this road and all of our city-to-city roads to bring them up to full dual carriageway standard.
“Dualling the A96 is a significant undertaking which requires careful, in-depth planning and design to ensure that we deliver the right scheme to help tackle congestion and provide better journey time reliability and road safety for all users.
“In addition to the preliminary work we are undertaking on the whole of the A96 corridor, we are currently progressing the route option assessment work for the 30 km Inverness to Nairn including Nairn Bypass scheme, and expect to announce a preferred option for this scheme later this year when our plans will go on public display.
“The contract notice being published today will allow us to appoint a design consultant early next year to develop the preferred option and look to publish draft orders for the scheme in 2016.”