Motorists have been left frustrated after it was revealed yesterday that the opening of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) has been pushed back once again by contractors to December at the earliest.
The news was announced to MSPs by transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson who could not provide a firmer date than a likely December timeline. He said that problems revealed earlier in the year at the new Don crossing section of the scheme were more “extensive” than initially believed and a greater scope of work would be necessary to repair defects.
Matheson has urged the AWPR contractor to “stop deliberating and start acting” so the people of the north east can benefit from Scotland’s newest piece of major infrastructure.
It comes as another major setback for the scheme after the former economy secretary Keith Brown told parliament back in March that the £745m AWPR – which was scheduled for completion in spring this year – would have to be pushed back six months for an autumn opening.
Commenting on the delay, Matheson said: “Our primary responsibility must be to ensure these works are completed safely, to the required quality standards. The River Don Crossing section will not open until Transport Scotland officials and I have confidence this is the case. The contractor is working hard to repair the defects and earlier this week it reported it was targeting a December opening date. However, it is not possible to provide a definitive date as there are a number of factors which could influence it including technical issues and other physical factors such as weather.”
To add to the problems, the MSP has revealed annoyance that talks with Galliford Try to open the 31.5km section from Craibstone to Stonehaven and Charleston, which required a variation to the contract, have not progressed as hoped.
Matheson added: “Earlier this week, I spoke with Peter Truscott, chief executive of Galliford Try to receive an update on the progress they were making in discussing this variation with their lenders. Despite assurances that they were doing everything possible to open the road at the earliest opportunity, as well as a clear indication from Mr Truscott that they were making the necessary changes to the AWPR contract to open the 31.5km section, I was then disappointed to receive a letter from him which contradicted our discussion.”
“I have been urging the contractor to conclude its deliberations for some time. I repeated this to him on Monday and reiterated it again today in writing, It is now time for the contractor to stop deliberating and start acting.”
The scheme has encountered problems all year with Galliford Try, Balfour Beatty and Carillion, originally tasked with delivering one of Scotland’s biggest infrastructure projects. But when Birmingham-based Carillion liquidated in January, the remaining two partners were left to pick up the pieces. Galliford Try was then forced in February to admit it expected the cost of completing the bypass to be £150m higher than it had originally projected.