20 Dec 2018 13:15
Matheson unsurprised as contractor confirms deadline missed
Huge journey time reductions and eased congestion on local roads are ‘everything the North East hoped for’ following the opening of the lion’s share of the transformative £745 million project last week.
This was the verdict of business owners and general road users after the Craibstone Stonehaven and Charleston section opened before last Wednesday’s morning rush hour (December 12).
However, cautious hopes the final 4.5 mile (7.5km) section between Parkhill and Craibstone would open before Christmas have been dashed. Contractor Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) has this week informed Transport Scotland it will not meet the deadline it set itself at the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee just over a fortnight ago (December 5).
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson warned the same committee meeting to treat ARL’s estimates with caution.
Mr Matheson said: “This week, ARL informed us it was no longer able to meet its own deadline of concluding works at the Don Crossing before Christmas. This is just over a fortnight since it set this deadline publicly in Parliament. I have consistently urged caution and realism about ARL’s ambitious timescales. Unfortunately, as disappointing as this news is, it comes as no surprise to me it has been unable to achieve this.
“We have been here before with ARL. My officials and I will continue to work constructively and offer every assistance to get the remaining 4.5 miles open as soon as possible. I also want to pay tribute to the workforce who have undoubtedly been working hard during this most challenging time of year.
“It is well known that ARL has experienced a series of technical issues during the construction of the Don Crossing. In order for this Government to protect the public purse, it is imperative that ARL provides the necessary technical and commercial assurances for the Don Crossing. We cannot and will not contemplate releasing payments for this structure without these critical assurances.
In terms of an opening date for this section, although ARL are forecasting January 2019, they have been unable to provide a definitive date.
“More than 85 per cent of the AWPR is now open to traffic and is delivering immediate benefits which the people of the North East are clearly enjoying. I’m thrilled to be seeing story after story of people and businesses seeing substantial improvements to their journey times and reduced congestion across the city. Obviously this is still anecdotal but the road has been performing very well so far. It has been a very vivid demonstration of the transformation that infrastructure can bring about in people’s daily lives, the quality of their environment and the economy as a whole.”