Three new sections for the A9 dualling programme will be 'shovel-ready' in 2017.

The Transport Minister made the announcement about the stretches - Pitagowan to Glen Garry (10.5km); Dalwhinnie to Crubenmore (8.3km); and Tomatin to Moy (9.3km).

Work on the Kincraig to Dalraddy stretch (7.5km) is due to start in 2015/16.

The £3billion project for dualling between Inverness and Perth is expected to finish by 2025.

MFR understands it’s currently ‘on schedule’.

Keith Brown's also revealed proposed off-road construction has been scrapped. He told MFR: “Some of the possible off-line developments which we’ve talked about on parts of the scheme are not going to go ahead.

“We will guarantee that this road will be constructed essentially along the existing line of the road, within a 200 metre corridor.

“We have the Fitting Landscapes policy being published today which will be our guide to the early dualling of the A9, at the same time as making sure that we maintain the special qualities of the A9 landscape.”

Proposals for the Luncarty to Pass of Birnam stretch (9.5km) have been published today, with a public exhibition to follow.

That stretch is one of the busiest sections of the A9 which also known as Scotland’s most dangerous road.

Commenting on the announced acceleration SCDI’s Highlands & Islands Director Fraser Grieve told us: “SCDI have long been advocates of the importance of upgrading the A9 and we fully support the Scottish Government’s commitment to fully dual this road between Inverness and Perth by 2025.

“Today’s announcement of changes to how the upgrade will be delivered resulting in three schemes being accelerated is a welcome step which will help to deliver much needed improvement both in journey time and safety along this vital transport artery.”

AUDIO: Transport Minister Keith Brown talks to MFR Reporter Bryan Rutherford...