Aberdeen bypass to miss Christmas deadline despite contractor’s pledge

Despite Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) publicly committing to opening the final 4.5 mile stretch of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) by Christmas just two weeks ago, the contractor responsible for delivering one of Scotland’s biggest infrastructure projects has confirmed yet another missed deadline.

Transport Scotland has today announced that the 36-mile road scheme will not be fully open by next week with the final section between Parkhill and Craibstone now estimated to be open in January, although no definitive date has been given.

The news comes a little more than a week after a pivotal 20-mile section opened to motorists on 12 December. Construction on the project originally began in February 2015 with the first main bypass section between Parkhill and Blackdog opening earlier this year in June. 

Cost of the bypass was originally earmarked as £745m but bosses from Balfour Beatty and Galliford told Scottish MSPs on 5 December that the final cost will skyrocket above the £1bn mark.

Three bosses from Balfour, Galliford and ARL were hauled before politicians two weeks to give an update on the AWPR with the route originally due to open in spring but has suffered from a huge amount of delays with one of the biggest stumbling blocks being the Don crossing.

Scotland’s cabinet secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson has now confirmed the latest delay and has stressed the need to treat ARL’s estimates with caution and has been damning in the Christmas missed deadline saying it “comes as no surprise”.

“This week, ARL informed us it was no longer able to meet its own deadline of concluding works at the Don Crossing before Christmas,” he added. “This is just over a fortnight since it set this deadline publicly in Parliament. I have consistently urged caution and realism about ARL’s ambitious timescales. 

“It is well known that ARL has experienced a series of technical issues during the construction of the Don Crossing.  In order for this government to protect the public purse, it is imperative that ARL provides the necessary technical and commercial assurances for the Don Crossing. We cannot and will not contemplate releasing payments for this structure without these critical assurances.”

However, the cabinet secretary remains positive with more than 85% of the AWPR now open to traffic and said to be “delivering immediate benefits” and “substantial improvements to journey times and reduced congestion across the city”.

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