£64m road upgrade agreed but long wait is still far from over

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THE Government yesterday gave approval for the long-awaited plan to complete the upgrading of the 17 miles of road which will take golfers to Donald Trump's new golf resort.

However, a major row erupted after it was revealed that work on the 64 million scheme to dual almost six miles of the A90 between Balmedie and Tipperty will not begin until the future of the controversial 400m Aberdeen bypass has been resolved.

The Government's decision to proceed with the Aberdeen western peripheral route (AWPR), which will create a fast link to the north, west and south of Aberdeen, is being challenged at the Court of Session by anti- bypass campaign group Road Sense.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: "John Swinney, the finance secretary, announced as part of his draft budget that the A90 upgrade would be part of a combined scheme funded by a non-profit distributing (NPD) model including the Aberdeen western peripheral route. There will be economies of scale in the cost of a combined NPD.

"Assuming a successful outcome to the appeal against the AWPR, the cost estimates for both this scheme and the A90 Balmedie-Tipperty scheme will be reviewed and updated prior to the commencement of the formal procurement process."

Alison McInnes, the north east MSP and Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman, condemned the decision to link the two major projects.

She declared: "The Government has dithered and delayed over this project for almost four years. Local people are understandably not happy that this decision has taken so long.

"The decision to upgrade the A90 is, of course, to be welcomed as it will ease congestion in the area and make this stretch of road so much safer. But the Government will win no friends by tying this project up with the AWPR. The upgrade could and should be finished quicker as a separate project."

Announcing the go-ahead, Transport Minister Keith Brown said the scheme would remove a major bottleneck on a busy commuter and transport route which is used by 20,000 vehicles a day. The single-carriageway section of A90 between Balmedie and Tipperty has been the scene of several serious accidents in recent years.

The decision was welcomed by Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump International Scotland. She said: "This is another positive step towards improving the region's infrastructure.

"Alongside the expansion of Aberdeen Airport's runway, we look forward to seeing construction start."

Alex Salmond, the MSP for Gordon,? said: "The local community have been pressing for this upgrade for a number of years, and today's announcement will see the removal of the bottleneck caused by the existing single carriageway.

"After years of inaction by the previous Labour-Liberal administration, it has taken the SNP in government to get progress on this vital transport project and the folk of Gordon and the north east are set to benefit."

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