Scotland’s transport secretary Michael Matheson is demanding a meeting with Aberdeen bypass contractors Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try as disputes over final payments cause yet another delay in the major project’s full opening.
Matheson has hit out once again at Aberdeen Roads Limited – the consortium responsible for delivering the scheme – for missing its last deadline of the end of January, insisting the Scottish government is “not prepared to pick up the tab for mistakes made by construction companies”.
The bypass has suffered from numerous setbacks over the last two years with Carillion who had been part of the original contracted consortium adding to the problems of construction progression when it liquidated at the start of 2018.
Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty were able to open a pivotal 20-mile section to motorists on 12 December after encountering a series of problems on the 36-mile bypass. But one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the Don crossing after investigations found ducts in the structure were displaced.
Despite all the remaining physical works at the Don Crossing now finished, the infrastructure secretary said the road can only be fully opened once “ministers receive the necessary assurances about the longer term impact of the remedial work and the changed costs of future maintenance”.
Commenting, Matheson said: “Last month, Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) told Parliament that the current delays arose as a result of defective workmanship to the Don Crossing. In the space of just two weeks following that statement, ARL’s target opening date for the remaining section of the AWPR slipped from before Christmas to January. We are now at the end of January and ARL are still not in a position to open this final section.”
Construction on the project originally began in February 2015 with the first main bypass section between Parkhill and Blackdog opening last summer. Currently, only 85% of the AWPR is open to motorists.
But Matheson is now seeking further meetings with contractors to show how “resolute our defence of the public purse will be”. He added: “We are not prepared to pick up the tab for mistakes made by construction companies. No responsible government could ever saddle the public purse with uncertain costs for an uncertain period of time.”