WORK finally began today on the long-awaited Aberdeen bypass - 64 years after plans to end the gridlock gripping Europe’s oil capital were first mooted.
• Keith Brown today cut the first sod for ground investigations for the 28-mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR)
• The new project will create up to 900 jobs directly with the potential for many more
• Construction is expected to get underway in the Autumn of 2014. The project was hit by legal delays and inflation
Keith Brown, the Scottish Transport Minister, signalled the start of the transformational transport project as he visited the outskirts of the city to cut the first sod for essential ground investigations for the 28 mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).
The final barrier to the start of construction on the road was removed last month when five judges at the Supreme Court unanimously rejected a last ditch appeal appeal by protest group RoadSense to challenge the Scottish Government’s go-ahead for the vital route.
The £1 million contract for the ground investigations for the route was recently awarded to Soil Engineering Ltd and will take up to six months to complete.
Mr Brown said: “The Scottish Government has already signalled its commitment to crack on and build the AWPR and the Balmedie-Tipperty project following the conclusion of the long-running legal challenge last month.
“Just one month on and we have already informed the construction industry tenders for the main works will be issued in spring next year. Now, with the award of this contract, we are hitting the ground running and providing tangible evidence of our ability to deliver this much-needed project for the North east.”
He continued: “The AWPR has clear benefits in terms of the jobs it will create and the investment it will attract. It is estimated that during construction it will create up to 900 jobs directly, with the potential to generate many more for the local supply chain and subcontracts. On completion it will cut the journey across Aberdeen by up to half at peak periods, bringing with this not only jobs but reduced costs and opportunities for increased sales to businesses.
“That is why we continue to make record levels of investment in transport projects right across Scotland, including the North East. With increased funding we could deliver even more.”
Councillor Barney Crockett, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, also attended the ceremony at Parkhill, near Dyce, on the northern leg of the bypass route. He said: “I’m delighted to see that work is getting under way so quickly. It’s a huge encouragement for the people of the North-east to see things start moving.
“Aberdeen City Council is the managing agent for the scheme and we are determined to get it up and running as quickly as possible. This council has a very good project management record and I am confident that the AWPR will be run as smoothly as some of our other major projects, including the refurbishment of Marischal College.”
Councillor Jim Gifford, the leader of Aberdeenshire Council, also welcomed the start of work on the route. He said: “This is one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the UK at this time and I’m pleased to see that agencies have wasted no time in making a start on the investigation works.
“It sends a strong message to the communities of Aberdeenshire that now all the barriers have been removed, our focus is on seeing progress as quickly as possible.”
The construction of the new bypass is expected to get underway in the Autumn of 2014 with completion expected in Spring 2018. Legal delays and inflation have already been blamed for sending the construction bill for the bypass soaring to £653 million - more than five times the cost of building the road when it was first approved by Scottish ministers nine years ago.