The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) has finally opened to motorists after decades upon decades of political – and literal – gridlock in the north-east.
The long and winding road to a bypass around the Granite City was first proposed in 1947, but it was not until 2003, when former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell promised Aberdeen that it would receive an outer ring road.
And despite years of controversy regarding exactly where the road would be, including fears it could go through a community for disabled people, a final route was decided and preparation work commenced in 2014.
Completion dates for the much-anticipated infrastructure project varied wildly over the course of the construction – in 2014, it was estimated the entire bypass would be open to traffic on the winter of 2017.
However, due to numerous major setbacks, including inclement weather and the collapse of construction giant Carillion – one of the three contractors for the project under the consortium of
Aberdeen Roads Limited alongside Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try – pushed the deadline further and further into the future.
Yesterday, Transport Scotland chiefs hailed the first day of the final 4.5 miles of the AWPR being used by the public.
All 36 miles of the £745 million-budgeted project are now open, from Stonehaven all the way to north of the Bridge of Don.
Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for transport, said: “Since the major part of the road opened in December 2018, the overwhelmingly positive feedback has demonstrated the positive impact that infrastructure can bring about in people’s lives, the quality of their environment and the economy as a whole.”
Jim Gifford, the leader of Aberdeenshire Council, added: “There have certainly been challenges along the way, but we must now focus on the benefits we are already beginning to enjoy in terms of improved connectivity and reduced congestion.”
And Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing added: “The AWPR is a vital component of Aberdeen City Council’s £1billion capital programme underpinned by the regional economic strategy which is providing the bedrock for a bright, prosperous future for the city and wider region.
“The opening of the AWPR, a much needed and long-awaited development, will have as significant an impact from an economic perspective as it will in terms of transport.”
Meanwhile, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has asked Transport Scotland to carry out a new traffic survey on the A90 Blackdog to Peterhead road.
Mr Stevenson has argued that with the completion of the bypass and the Balmedie to Tipperty dualling project, the road is far busier.
In particular, the MSP highlighted the impact it could have on traffic using the notorious Toll of Birness to Peterhead section, which he believes could potentially qualify it for dualling work.