Rows over the cost of the Aberdeen bypass raged on yesterday as the road finally fully opened to traffic.
North East Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles demanded to know whether the taxpayer would have to stump up for a £250 million overspend on the £745m project.
Labour counterpart Lewis Macdonald claimed the total cost of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) would reach £1.45 billion when payments to the contractors over 30 years were taken into account.
Traffic was able to use the full 36 miles of the dual carriageway yesterday, two months after the final section should have opened.
The road was due to have opened last spring, but was delayed by bad weather and the collapse of construction firm Carillion.
It was built under a £745m fixed-price contract, but in December contractors told a Holyrood committee that delays had resulted in hundreds of millions of pounds in additional costs, taking the overall cost to more than £1bn.
Mr Rumbles said: “The Scottish Government’s handling of the contract for the AWPR has been nothing less than shambolic.
“Contractors told the rural economy and connectivity committee in the autumn that costs for the project had risen from £745m to as much as £1bn and the minister still cannot tell us whether the Scottish taxpayer will be asked to fork out for any of that extra cost.
“From start to finish, the Scottish Government has covered up its incompetence by focusing on procedural issues.
“Now the Scottish Government will not tell the public whether the taxpayer is exposed to just some or all of the £250m cost overrun.” Mr Macdonald said: “The Scottish Government website says taxpayers will be paying an average charge to the contractors of £48m a year for 30 years, which comes to a total bill of £1.45bn over that time. Payments to Aberdeen Road Limited are scheduled to end in 2048.”
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The estimated total cost of the AWPR scheme remains at £745m. Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) bid for this scheme with its eyes open and while it is not unusual for claims for additional sums to be raised by a contractor on large, complex infrastructure projects, not all claims necessarily have merit.
“The Scottish Government is not willing to pay over the odds for the road on account of mistakes or miscalculations that are of the contractors’ making.”