Preferred route of new A9/A96 link road revealed
Transport Scotland has published details of its preferred route for a new road in Inverness linking the A9 and A96 trunk roads.
The planned route between the city's Culloden Road and Smithton Junction would include new junctions at Ashton Farm and Cradlehall.
It would also provide a new access to Inverness Shopping Park and involve building a bridge over a railway line.
Public comments have been sought on the new road.
Six options for the route, which could cost between £25m to £35m to build, were unveiled last year.
A campaign was started shortly after the announcement to oppose the potential loss of 17 mature oak trees. The preferred route would reduce the road's impact on the trees, said Transport Scotland.
'12 seconds per day'
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the road formed part of the £315m Inverness City Region Deal.
He said the preferred option "marks a major milestone in the design of this new link road.
"As well as contributing to Highland Council's development plans for east Inverness, the scheme will reduce traffic on the A9 and A96 passing through Raigmore Interchange and improve safety by reducing traffic levels on key parts of the local road network.
"I am particularly pleased that we have been able to redesign the scheme to minimise impacts on the mature trees along Caulfield Road North, taking account of feedback following public exhibitions last year."
But Scottish Green Party Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie said commuters using the new road would see little improvement to their journeys.
He said: "This huge investment will result in a peak time improvement of approximately 12 seconds per day for commuters.
"It is the latest example of a government which has the wrong priorities when it comes to investment in transport infrastructure.
"The Scottish government would be better served investing in rail and bus services which are better for communities and better for our environment."