Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route
The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) is a major infrastructure development proposed to take place on the outskirts of Aberdeen, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. First announced in January 2003, it was approved by ministers in late 2009. Construction began on 19 February 2015.
The dual carriageway is projected to cost £745 million and create an alternative route from north to south Aberdeen, bypassing the city. Currently the only dual carriageway route from north to south is through the city itself, along the original 1930s bypass, Anderson Drive, which is unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles as they cannot cross the Bridge of Dee at its south end. The city has long since expanded beyond Anderson Drive, and a bypass for Aberdeen was first proposed in 1952. In 2012, following lengthy legal delays, the project was approved and construction began in February 2015 and is due to finish in 2018.
The proposed development has been designed to have a positive impact on traffic along routes which are congested during rush hour, particularly Aberdeen's Anderson Drive, King Street and Union Street.
Other intentions of this project would be a slight reduction in traffic congestion on the bridges into central Aberdeen, which is sandwiched between the River Dee and the River Don, by reducing heavy goods vehicles that do not need to enter the city itself.
There will also be a reduction in the volume of traffic heading towards Aberdeen Airport, the adjacent industrial estates at Dyce and the new Aberdeen International Business Park. Aberdeen City Council constructed a new six-lane Airport Link Road (ALR) to connect Aberdeen Airport and the business park with the A96 and AWPR, which opened late 2016.
It is argued by some that the road is important to keep the economy active.
Given the number of objectors, a public local enquiry (PLI) was held in 2008-2009 although its limited remit was controversial. The PLI recommended adoption of the route and Scottish Ministers approved the route, and it was passed by resolution of the Scottish Parliament on 3 March 2010. Thereafter an appeal was made to the Court of Session based on a number of points, including the limited remit of the PLI. The appeal was dismissed and a further appeal was made to the appellate division the "Inner House" of the Court of Session. This also failed. A yet further appeal was made to the UK Supreme Court. This appeal also failed to overturn the decision to proceed with the route.
On 19 October 2012 a notice was published advising the market that expressions of interest for contractors to construct the route would be made in early 2013 with a view to start construction in late 2014. The initial shortlist of four preferred bidders was reduced to three with the withdrawal of the Scotia Roads Group consortia in September 2013. This leaves Granite City Roads (Macquarie Capital Group Limited: Vialia; Iridium; Keir Project Investment Limited), North East Roads Partnership (Cintra Infraestructuras, S.A.; John Laing Investments Limited) and Connect Roads (Balfour Beatty Investments Limited; Carillion Private Finance (Transport) Limited; Galliford Try Investments Limited) as the remaining bidders. Keith Brown (Scottish Transport Secretary) has also advised that the scheme may open in stages where possible in an effort to relieve existing traffic, with the announcement of the preferred bidder for the contract expected in mid-2014.
The official estimate of the cost of the AWPR was initially £295 - £395 million, although figures now being reported in the press are in the region of £653 million. Transport Scotland quotes the scheme at £745 million in 2012 prices. Contracts for associated preparation works have begun to be announced on the Public Contracts Scotland website.
Contract award was announced on 11 June 2014, with Connect Roads named as the preferred bidder. Famous legal practice Pinsent Masons were involved with Connect Roads, advising on the legal aspects of the tender. Advance works are already under way, with Scottish Transport Secretary Keith Brown making the announcement of the winning bid from the site of works at Findon Junction. A series of public exhibitions around Aberdeen and Shire from 23–30 June 2014 were also announced by Transport Scotland, to inform the public about current progress, advance works, the route and environmental aspects. An £8m "pre-start works agreement" has now been announced between Transport Scotland and the preferred bidder, Connect Roads. Connect Roads will now begin the work of fencing, environment surveys and ground investigations ahead of the main works contract commencing later in the year. Other site clearing works and environmental works, such as the relocation of protected badgers, is continuing meantime. Final completion of construction is now anticipated in the second half of 2017, shaving around 6 months off the original construction timescale. The Craibstone interchange was announced to be completed in late 2016 along with the Balmedie to Tipperty section a few months later. Main sub-contracts for the construction phase of the works have now been published on the Public Contracts Scotland website, with most indicated to begin January 2015. Transport Scotland has also added a current activity page to their AWPR/B-T area, which details currently ongoing works on the project.
Stonehaven campaigners have once again raised concerns over the proposed design for the interchange of the existing A90 dual carriageway and the new Fastlink section of the AWPR. A local farmer has offered land for free to support an alternative design for the interchange, but Transport Scotland has pointed out that changes at this point would add delay and jeopardize the now late-2017 completion date due to road orders and other legal instruments having already been made. They have also pointed out that this alternative design was considered by the design team during earlier stages, and discounted.
Financial close on the project with the winning bidder, now known as Aberdeen Roads Limited, was achieved on 15 December 2014. It was also announced that lifetime costs for the project (Aberdeen Roads Limited will construct and operate/maintain the route for a period of 30 years) were down by £220m, thanks to innovative new features like a more durable long-life road surface. It was also announced that the consortium would be bringing forward the scheduled completion dates for the Craibstone and Dyce Junctions by Autumn 2016 and the Balmedie to Tipperty section by spring 2017, following requests from stakeholders. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, along with Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Keith Brown, Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing and Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Cllr Jim Gifford, attended the site at Balmedie on the 16th Feb 2015 to perform the ceremonial ground-breaking and officially kick off the start of the works programme.
Construction of the main site office at Stonehaven is now well underway, with a local firm successfully tendering for and providing the temporary accommodation units. Clearance works for the Balmedie site office were performed during the official ground breaking ceremony and First Minister visit, with the first overhead line safety systems being erected and Flannery Plant heavy machines now on location in preparation for works start. The first major traffic management systems for the works have begun to be put in place, with a new 30 mph limit around the Dyce/Goval/Parkhill area roads. This restriction is scheduled to run until 21 October 2016, so will be in place for the duration of construction on this leg of the AWPR. Traffic lights and lane closures will also be present on the A93 North Deeside Road at Milltimber Brae during May and June to allow for trial digs and utilities re-routing work. Aberdeen Roads Limited has also recently published its first Project Update newsletter for Spring 2015, detailing current and future works and traffic management measures.
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