MOTORISTS are facing at least another seven years of commuter misery before an improvement scheme is completed at one of Scotland’s worst traffic bottlenecks.
The infamous Haudagain roundabout in Aberdeen, where traffic on the main A96 road to Inverness meets cars, buses and lorries on the A90 to Peterhead trunk road, has been a major pinch-point in Europe’s oil capital for decades.
And last year it was Scotland’s sole nomination for the title of worst roundabout in Britain.
Opposition politicians in the north-east are now calling on the Scottish Government to “think again” about a completion date on the roundabout after transport minister Keith Brown yesterday confirmed that work on improvements to the Haudagain will not begin until the completion of the 28-mile Aberdeen city bypass, in 2018.
Construction at the roundabout is then expected to take at least nine months.
Richard Baker, the north-east Labour MSP, said: “Local commuters and businesses will be dismayed to learn that it will not be until 2019 that the much- needed improvements to the roundabout will be in place.
“That means seven more years of chronic congestion and delays at the Haudagain, damaging local businesses and our local economy. And, as ministers have not stated exactly when the work will begin, it could even be as late as 2020 before the improvements are in place. For years, the SNP have been promising to sort out the Haudagain roundabout, but in government they have done nothing.
“Their decision not to start work on the Haudagain until after the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) is completed is completely unnecessary and has doomed Aberdeen to suffer the effects of logjam at the Haudagain for many years.”
Proposals for a £14.5million bypass at the Haudagain roundabout were first approved by ministers in August, 2010. Under the plans, more than 300 homes in the city’s Middlefield area will be demolished to make way for a dual carriageway connecting North Anderson Drive with the western arm of Auchmill Road on the A96 to Inverness.
According to Nestrans, the local transport partnership, it can take, on average, between seven and 22 minutes at peak periods for a driver to cross the roundabout.
A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland defended the proposed timescale.
She said: “The government has made a clear commitment to starting improvements to Haudagain roundabout immediately following completion of the AWPR.
“Studies by Aberdeen City Council have shown that the real benefits from the Haudagain project, such as reduced congestion, better journey times and improved road safety, will only be achieved once the AWPR and Third Don Crossing have been constructed.”
She added: “We are aware of the effect the bottleneck has on commuters and are delivering on our commitment to make substantial improvements.”