City by­pass open next month, say con­trac­tors

No of­fi­cial date given to pub­lic yet de­spite share­hold­ers be­ing in­formed

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CALUM ROSS AND JAMES WYL­LIE

“I ex­pect the con­trac­tors will want to give their ac­count”

Con­trac­tors build­ing the de­lay-hit Aberdeen by­pass have stated that con­struc­tion will be com­pleted next month.

Last night Gal­li­ford Try, one half of the Aberdeen Roads Lim­ited (ARL) con­sor­tium, is­sued a state­ment to in­vestors about the progress of the £745 mil­lion scheme.

It said that the com­ple­tion date for the River Don cross­ing, the fi­nal sec­tion, will be fin­ished in De­cem­ber fol­low­ing set­backs with “in­creased com­plex­ity and weather de­lays”.

The firm added that, as a re­sult, the to­tal cost of the scheme has in­creased by around £20m.

De­spite the an­nounce­ment, an of­fi­cial open­ing date for the Aberdeen Western Pe­riph­eral Route (AWPR) is yet to be an­nounced.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Math­e­son pushed the open­ing date back from “late au­tumn” last week and called for changes to the AWPR con­tract so that the 19-mile Craib­stone to Stone­haven stretch can be opened first.

Ahead of an ur­gent meet­ing with con­trac­tors to­day, he de­scribed the Gal­li­ford Try state­ment as “en­cour­ag­ing”.

“Given this state­ment is bound by stock mar­ket rules, I trust this rep­re­sents a true re­flec­tion of their con­fi­dence lev­els and I look for­ward to this be­ing re­in­forced by ARL at the meet­ing,” he said.

“Even more press­ing, how­ever, will be mean­ing­ful move­ment to­wards open­ing the re­main­der of the road as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I can cer­tainly see no im­ped­i­ment to this hap­pen­ing if ARL agrees to the nec­es­sary con­tract vari­a­tion on the ta­ble.”

He added: “I am de­ter­mined we con­tinue to work con­struc­tively with ARL.

“How­ever, I will also be re­mind­ing it that it stands at the be­gin­ning of a 30year re­la­tion­ship with the north-east and it would be highly re­gret­table if sub­stan­tial eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits are ef­fec­tively be­ing with­held .”

Mean­while MSPs on the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee have agreed to call on both the con­trac­tors and Mr Math­e­son to give ev­i­dence about the project’s missed dead­lines.

Peter Chap­man, a north­east Con­ser­va­tive MSP and con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee mem­ber, said: “We need to get around the ta­ble and have the first full, frank dis­cus­sion about how this mess has oc­curred.

“In his com­ments to the cham­ber last week, Mr Math­e­son put the onus on the con­sor­tium for ev­ery de­lay go­ing.

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to find out how those at Aberdeen Roads Ltd felt about that, and whether they agree.”

North-east Labour MSP Lewis Mac­don­ald said: “I ex­pect the con­trac­tors will want to give their ac­count.

“They cer­tainly should take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to come to Par­lia­ment to tell it and the pub­lic what has been go­ing on.”

‘MISSED DEAD­LINES’: Work goes on on the Aberdeen Western Pe­riph­eral Route near Kingswells, as the late au­tumn open­ing date is missed

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