Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has expressed delight that a significant section of the AWPR/B-T project will open next week following weeks of intensive talks with the project’s contractor.
However, Mr Matheson added he shared the frustration of the North East and asked why his personal intervention was required for Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) to open the road when this section has been ready for two months.
This news comes after ARL informed the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee today that its lenders have agreed to open the new section of road between the A90 at both Stonehaven and Craibstone and the A956 between Cleanhill and Charleston.
The new section will provide North East road users with access to around 20 miles (32km) of new road, which means more than 85 per cent of the project will be open to traffic from next week.
Mr Matheson, said:
“This is the news we have all been waiting for. I have explored every possible avenue with Aberdeen Roads Limited to open this section of road as soon as possible and I am delighted my efforts to bring this matter to a positive conclusion have been successful.
“I made it clear to them my strong desire to get the road open would not be at any cost and Scottish Ministers are simply not willing to pay over the odds for the road on account of mistakes or miscalculations that are of the contractors’ own making. I am pleased they have now recognised this.
“It is disappointing my personal intervention was required in order to move this matter forward. I question why it has taken ARL this long to release these benefits to the North East when the road has been ready to open on October 5 and payments to ARL could have commenced earlier.
“I am sure the people of the North East will join me in a sense of relief and even excitement that a large part of this transformative road is finally opening. But they will also share my deep sense of frustration at ARL’s misguided and ultimately pointless tactics.
“We should also keep in mind that technical issues with the Don Crossing are the sole reason the road is not open today.
“ARL has said it aims to finish the bridge before Christmas but has also correctly warned the remaining works are complex, very weather sensitive and subject to safety and quality tests. We should therefore treat this optimistic programme with caution.”
The AWPR will provide thousands of drivers every day with a range of benefits, including improved journey time reliability, better local access and reduced congestion, while safety will also be enhanced. It will also improve air quality and reduce traffic volume in Aberdeen City, making pedestrian and cycle travel around Aberdeen easier, safer and a more enjoyable experience.
Mr Matheson added:
“Opening this section will mean the large majority of the project will be open and benefits associated with the project being enjoyed in time for Christmas. A welcome present for sure, although one we could rightly have expected much earlier.
“When fully open, after the remaining section of the project between Craibstone and Parkhill is complete, it will bring in an additional £6 billion to the North East economy and create around 14,000 jobs over the next 30 years.”
The opening date and information for road users will be provided as soon as possible.
This new section is addition to the Balmedie and Tipperty section, which opened in August 2018, the Parkhill and Blackdog, which in June 2018, and the Craibstone Roundabout and Dyce Drive section, which opened in September 2016.