Companies shortlisted for A9 Perth-Inverness work
Companies have been shortlisted for three contracts worth up to £60m each for the design of new dual carriageway on the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
The contracts cover Birnam to Glen Garry, Glen Garry to Dalraddy and Dalraddy to Inverness.
The work forms part of a £3bn Scottish government project to dual the road completely between the two cities.
The construction work involving 80 miles (128.7km) is scheduled to be completed in 2025.
Government agency Transport Scotland said eight design consultancies or joint ventures have made shortlist.
They are AECOM/Mott MacDonald, Arup, Atkins/Mouchel, Capita, CH2M HILL/Fairhurst, Jacobs, URS and WSP/Ramboll/Fehily Timoney.
The companies are expected to receive invitations to tender for the contracts next month.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said upgrading the A9 between Perth and Inverness to dual carriageway was the most expensive transport project in Scotland's history.
He said it will exceed the cost of the M74, Queensferry Crossing and Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route combined.'Hugely important'
Mr Brown said: "Some very complex and demanding challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, but given our track record on other major projects we are confident of delivery on time and on budget."
He added: "There are many challenges along this route which passes through areas that are hugely important in terms of Scotland's wildlife and landscape.
"One such section is Birnam to Tay Crossing, where we are working to minimise any impact to properties, the railway and the environment."
Following calls earlier this month from the Free Church of Scotland to accelerate the project, Mr Brown said that more than half of the new dual carriageway should be built by 2022.