THE Scottish Government is planning to spend up to £3 million on a series of archaeological digs to unearth the hidden history of sites along the route of the long awaited Aberdeen bypass.
A series of “Time Team” style digs will also take place along the route of the new Balmedie to Tipperty stretch of dual carriageways which is to be constructed in tandem with the 28m mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: ”Specialists are being invited to express interest in this £3 million archaeology project that could reveal a glimpse of the past while providing vital information for the future delivery of this vital road project.”
She explained: “The archaeological works for the combined project are due to begin in the summer of 2013 and take around ten months to complete.
“The works will be carried out in four sections, covering the Balmedie-Tipperty dualling project, the Northern Leg and Southern Leg of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, and the Cleanhill to Stonehaven Fastlink element of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
“The contract has been segmented to ensure small to medium businesses have the opportunity to bid for the work, opening the project up to smaller-scale contractors across Scotland as well as major national and international organisations.”
Keith Brown, the Scottish Transport Minister, said: “Just a week after I was in Aberdeen to see ground investigations resumed on the project route, our programme of on-the-ground preparatory works are being advanced significantly with the announcement of these archaeological surveys.
“It is also another example of how the project will support varied jobs, from graduates to engineers, archaeologists to geologists and administrators to accountants. By segmenting the archaeology digs, we are providing an opportunity for a wider group of smaller businesses to tender for the works individually, or as consortia.
“This builds on our promise to give local and regional Scottish contractors the opportunity to play a vital role in the delivery of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route / Balmedie-Tipperty project.”
Councillor Jim Gifford, the leader of Aberdeenshire Council, said: “This early investigation of the route will highlight any matters we will need to take account of as construction progresses. I hope the tender will result in some strong bids for a process that is particularly important for the overall project.”
Councillor Barney Crockett, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, also welcomed the announcement. He said: “I’m sure the vast majority of people in the North-east will join me in saying how pleasing it is to see so much work being undertaken so quickly with a view to getting the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route built as soon as possible.
“All partners wanted to hit the ground running and today’s announcement shows that we have done that. The archaeological works are of course essential and are just one part of the huge undertaking required to give Aberdeen and the North-east the transport infrastructure it needs and deserves.”