A preferred route to dual a major north-east road might not be revealed until next year.
Transport Scotland is currently reviewing options to build a new A96 east of Huntly with several routes being considered near Inverurie.
The government body had previously said a preferred route would be selected this year.
Nine possible route options were originally discussed before being reduced to six.
However, Transport Scotland has now said the route decision may take “until sometime next year”.
Campaign group A96 Action has made repeated calls for the Scottish Government body to upgrade the existing route instead of building a new road. The group has raised concerns over the environmental impact of building a new road.
A96 Action said it is happy for Transport Secretary Michael Matheson to take his time over responses.
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Campaign member Lorna Anderson said: “During our meeting with the Transport Secretary, he intimated due to the high number of responses received, any announcement of the chosen route might have to be pushed into next year.
“We are delighted that the minister is taking the time necessary to analyse responses to make the best decision for all parties.”
Meanwhile North East MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “It is no surprise that the Scottish Government does not want to announce any decision on dualling the A96, as their shortlist does not include the most obvious option of dualling the existing road at Inverurie.
“The Scottish Government should admit it needs to change direction and put dualling the existing A96 back on the table.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The design work for the challenging east of Huntly to Aberdeen scheme is well under way.
“Having let residents see and comment on the initial options last October, we held further engagement events in May for the remaining options being taken forward to the next stage of design and more than 1,300 people took the opportunity to come along and view the material.
“It is important that we take time to consider all the feedback received as we take forward the options assessment process.
“Due to the high volume of responses, the work to identify a preferred option for the scheme might take until sometime next year to be completed.”