Concern over AWPR delays

It seems like so long ago that I stood at the Bridge of Dee and did a TV interview, wearing my IoD hat, launching our campaign for the Aberdeen by-pass.

I made the point that the width-restricted 16th century bridge was the only trunk road connection between the Energy Capital and the rest of Europe. As such, it was, I pointed out, the only single carriageway between Aberdeen and Pisa in Italy.

That “Aberdeen to Pisa” line stuck and was even referred to in parliament.

Bridge of Dee, Aberdeen

I only chose Aberdeen to Pisa because, a few months previously, I had driven all the way from Pisa to Aberdeen. So, I knew from personal experience that there were other no single carriageway roads – let alone narrow mediaeval bridges – to contend with.

Fast forward a few years and the Scottish Government committed to developing the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

I had been approached by the Camphill communities to lobby for the road to avoid the two communities for vulnerable children and adults that would have been severely impacted by the Murtle corridor.

In managing that campaign, I had to accept – as someone who believed in the economic importance of the AWPR – that the successful Save Camphill campaign might have delayed the road by some months. But, none of us were expecting the years of delay that were to follow.

Save Camphill AWPR campaign

I remember the Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson phoning to advise that there were issues with the documentation that meant the completion date had to go back a year. But, he promised the business community, “the AWPR will be completed in 2012”.

Unfortunately, he reckoned without the intervention of William Walton. The road became mired in extended legal challenges before the green light was finally given and the announcement made that the new road would open in “Winter 2017/18”.

As Winter 2017/18 arrived, the matter of an opening date seemed forgotten. Then after a prolonged silence came a suggestion that it would now open in the spring.

The troubled history of the long-delayed bypass has taken a new twist with construction giant Carillion crashing into administration.

In recent days there have been reassurances that the AWPR will be completed by the two other joint-venture partners.

But, with talk of financial black holes in the £745 million road project, inevitably there must be concerns about further delays to the project.

Given that the new road should shave about 30 minutes off our time on the road south and ease the flow around the city, any further delay would be most unwelcome.
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