The new bypass route for Aberdeen, officially known as Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route or AWPR, was first proposed in 2003 and has been the subject of much controversy ever since. Numerous objections were raised by organisations and individuals, chiefly environmental concerns, but all were overridden and the project is now up for bids, construction expected to begin in 2014.
This week the announcement was made that the government had confirmed payment arrangements for the project, with the portion to be paid by Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council capped at £175m each. The Scottish government will be responsible for the remainder of an estimated £745m cost, or 81% of the total, and Transport Minister Keith Brown also promised that the government would meet any cost overruns.
Along with that announcement, the short list of contractors bidding on the 28-mile stretch of motorway was also published, and it included four consortia. They are Granite City, Scotia Roads Group, Connect Roads and Northeast Roads Partnership, whose partners are the huge Spanish transport development company Cintra Infrastructures and the German company Bilfinger, the main contractor on the costly and problematic tram project in Edinburgh.
The Transport Minister was questioned on the choice of Bilfinger in reference to what some consider a fiasco with Edinburgh’s tram system, but he said that Transport Scotland was not in charge of that operation and implied if it had been the problems might not have materialized. He said the company that won the lucrative contract would be chosen strictly on its merits and track record, and that people (critics) should be more interested in who’s managing the project than in which contractor is hired.
Brown went on to point out that Transport Scotland had an excellent track record of its own, with the M90 and the M74 brought in under budget and ahead of schedule. He said, “After years of delay, we should not underplay the need to insure the pace in delivering this vital project continues.”
City Council members have expressed satisfaction that the short list includes major organisations and work can be expected to go forward at a good pace. The contract’s requirements include on-the-job training for apprentices and local hires whenever possible. TM Brown mentioned the project should engender about 14,200 jobs in the northeast, and boost the economy by £6 billion in the next 30 years.