Four firms bidding for A96 upgrade east of Huntly
Four business have been invited to bid for a contract to design new dual carriageway on a 26-mile stretch of the A96 road between Huntly and Aberdeen.
The design contract is worth up to £50m.
The work forms part of a wider Scottish government project to upgrade the A96 to dual carriageway between Inverness and Aberdeen.
AECOM Limited, Amey Arup Joint Venture, Atkins WSP Joint Venture and Jacobs UK Ltd have been invited to bid.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "When this contract is awarded later this year, design work for the eastern section will step up a gear with route option assessment work getting underway.
"This contract will also provide the successful bidders with steady work for years to come, and many more opportunities for small and medium enterprises through subcontracted work."
Mr Brown said other parts of the road project were also being progressed, including work on the planned Nairn bypass and the design of a section between Hardmuir and Fochabers.