A LONG-AWAITED bridge was officially opened today in the Granite City after running £3million over budget and six months late.
The Third Don Crossing, which cost £22.3million to build and links the Bridge of Don area with Tillydrone, is hoped to ease traffic congestion along major routes in Aberdeen.
City Lord Provost George Adam was the first person to be driven over the bridge before the road was opened to the public.
The councillor was flanked by children from local primary schools, who helped him cut the ribbon on the new structure which crosses over the River Don.
The crossing will be officially named Diamond Bridge in a ceremony expected to take place later this year.
Problems with the bridge design and the tragic death of construction worker, Ian Walker, of Dundee, earlier this year delayed the opening.
Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing attended the event yesterday and described it as a “monumental” occasion.
She said: “We believe that the bridge will fundamentally transform travel in and around the city but it certainly has been a challenging project.
“For the council the regeneration of the city is very important to us and we’re probably rolling out the most ambitious regeneration programme that the city has ever seen.
“The bridge construction is one point of that jigsaw and we hope it will go on and transform the lives of the people who live as work in the city and indeed encourage investment.”
She said the scheme was the largest bridge project the city had seen for 30 years.
She added: “However, this project hasn’t been without tragedy and I think it’s only right and proper that we recognise and pay tribute to Ian Walker who lost his life during the construction of the bridge.
“I would like to extend on my behalf, and on behalf of the council and the city of Aberdeen our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.
“His passing is deeply tragic and I think it puts sharply into perspective some of the other issues that have emerged during the construction of the bridge.”
The Third Don Crossing was initially expected to open in December 2015 but was hit by delays due to construction problems.
Bearings at each end of the Third Don Crossing were believed to have caused issues with concrete on the structure turning up.
At the time the city council described a feature of the bridge to be “operating contrary to the design”.
The 90 metre long bridge was designed by AECOM and the plans checked by engineering firm Jacobs.
Weather and the rerouting of underground utilities also caused issues and Ian Walker then died while on site on 13 January.
George Hood, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty for the north of Scotland, who was also at the opening, said: “The bridge will play a significant role in improving traffic congestion and will help people get in and around the city much more easily and much quicker than before.
“Unfortunately the black cloud that hangs over us was the tragic accident that cost the life of Ian Walker.
“Ian was a loyal Balfour Beatty employee for more than 50 years and he was a decent family man.
“He will be honoured because a footpath crossing the north side of the bridge and the cycle path will be named Walker Way and there will be a plaque in memory of Ian’s efforts building this bridge.”