Further delays to the £745M Aberdeen Bypass means a key section over the River Don will not open until at least December.
Delayed initially from spring to autumn, and now till at least December, the £745M Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) continues to suffer the fallout from the collapse of Carillion, the hazardous conditions caused by the Beast from the East, and technical issues surrounding the River Don crossing.
Speaking to Members of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson has urged the AWPR contractor, a partnership of Galliford Try, Balfour Beatty and formerly Carillon, to ”stop deliberating and start acting.”
Matheson now asked for an urgent meeting with the contractors’ board members to clarify timescales for opening the remaining sections.
Further delays to the River Don portion of the project have come following concerns over the quality of the work, Matheson said in his statement.
“Our primary responsibility must be to ensure these works are completed safely, to the required quality standards. The River Don Crossing section will not open until Transport Scotland officials and I have confidence this is the case,” he said.
There is no firm completion date for this work, he added
“The contractor is working hard to repair the defects and earlier this week it reported it was targeting a December opening date. However, it is not possible to provide a definitive date as there are a number of factors which could influence it including technical issues and other physical factors such as weather.”
Matheson added said that discussions to open the 31.5km section from Craibstone to Stonehaven and Charleston have taken place. This opening date will require a change to the original contract, which the contractor has yet to agree.
Matheson referred to the delay as ‘frustrating’:
“Earlier this week, I spoke with Peter Truscott, chief executive of Galliford Try to receive an update on the progress they were making in discussing this variation with their lenders. Despite assurances that they were doing everything possible to open the road at the earliest opportunity, as well as a clear indication from Mr Truscott that they were making the necessary changes to the AWPR contract to open the 31.5km section, I was then disappointed to receive a letter from him which contradicted our discussion.
“It is this kind of inconsistency which is frustrating efforts to progress the opening of this new section. As recently as 12th September, Galliford Try issued a statement to markets to say the AWPR was on target to open in late Autumn 2018 and we had no reason to doubt that assessment,” he said.
“I have been urging the contractor to conclude its deliberations for some time. I repeated this to him on Monday and reiterated it again today in writing. It is now time for the contractor to stop deliberating and start acting.”
Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty said they were unable to comment directly due to the partnering nature of the project.
In April, New Civil Engineer reported that subcontracted workers ‘downed tools’ in a dispute with their employer on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
Also in April, Aberdeenshire Council sought repair costs up to £200,000, after local reports complained that the C13K Lairhillock Road was turned into a ‘war zone’ by construction traffic from the AWPR project.