Work on the proposed Maybole bypass edged closer as tenders were being invited for the main ground investigation from a number of construction firms interested in the development.
The section of road will span from the A77 in Scotland, which runs in a south-westerly direction from the city of Glasgow, with Kilmarnock being the primary destination of its route.
Transport minister Keith Brown has already expressed the importance that this new section of the country's road network is opened, as it forms a crucial link to the recently launched Loch Ryan ports, which act as key infrastructure points as well as bringing passengers into Scotland.
Loch Ryan is one of the many docks around the country and provides a ferry link between Cairnryan, Dumfries and Galloway, to Belfast and is within driving distance of the likes of Ayr and Glasgow while Edinburgh is around three hours away.
It acts as one of Scotland's major links to Northern Ireland and allows passengers an extra option aside from using the major dock of Stranraer further north. Mr Brown regards the completion of the Maybole bypass as a significant route to allow easier access to the dock.
The transport minister noted that the road will be able to help separate local traffic from traffic that is heading to places further afield such as Loch Ryan. He also notes that it will improve road safety, both for the drivers and the local communities situated in the vicinity, as well as improving journey times in and out of the area.
Mr Brown said: "This latest milestone to allow ground investigations works to commence and gather valuable information to inform further detailed design and assessment and confirm the preferred route for the bypass, will I am sure be welcome news for local communities and road users alike who want to see continued progress on this essential scheme."
Construction firms will now be able to apply to take on the contract with work hoping to get underway in the near future and completed within the estimated date.
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