Work on a £6m project to upgrade one of Scotland's most dangerous roads is to get under way in August.
The project aims to improve safety at Helmsdale, among other places
The 12-month contract for more than two kilometres of replacement road at Helmsdale, in Sutherland, has been awarded to construction firm RJ McLeod.
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said the "vital" project would improve safety on the A9.
He added that the SNP administration remained committed to "plan" for a dualling of the road in the long-term.
The scheme will see new trunk road laid between East Helmsdale and Allt Briste, a stretch which has no overtaking opportunities.
A new roundabout will also be built to improve access at Navidale and new junctions will be provided to Navidale Cemetery Road and Navidale House Hotel.
The section of road being replaced by the scheme will become a footway, cycleway and access track.
Mr Stevenson said of the project: "It will bring economic benefits to both the north of Scotland and the Northern Isles, bringing improved connections for locals, businesses and tourists, as well as providing an important link with the Scrabster ferry terminal."
A £15m junction improvement on the A9 at Ballinluig in Perthshire is now under way, while a £29m package for the road in the lower Highlands will take place in the "coming years", said the Scottish Executive.