The AWPR project will not open in late autumn as planned, a senior politician has just announced.
Speaking at Holyrood this afternoon, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the project has been delayed.
He told the Scottish Parliament road defects have to be repaired and he would not give an “arbitrary date” for the opening as it is weather dependent.
Mr Matheson’s colleagues had previously said the £750 million major road improvement scheme would be fully operational by “late autumn” – meaning the end of November.
It follows a heated Aberdeen City Council meeting yesterday in which councillors criticised Transport Scotland for not giving them – and city residents – an update on the scheme.
They argued that bridge defects in the new River Don Crossing and disagreements between Transport Scotland and contractors over finance meant it was unlikely the late autumn deadline would be met.
In response, a Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Throughout the development of this project, we have kept both our funding partners Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council fully updated on the progress being made.”
Conservative north-east MSP Liam Kerr said the minority SNP-run Scottish Government had originally pledged to have the AWPR fully open by the end of 2017, then March 2018 and then late autumn 2018 – and another delay was a “disgrace”.
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He asked if SNP was “losing its grip on the process”.
Mr Matheson responded by saying the allegation was “a bit rich” from a member of a party whose Westminster party had failed to delivery infrastructure projects in the north-east.
South Scotland Labour Colin Smyth MSP says it is “just not good enough” that an opening date cannot be given and asked what the final project cost would be.
Mr Matheson had earlier said any extra cost incurred would be met by contractors.
SNP north-east MSP Maureen Watt said she has been waiting all her life for this project and waiting a while longer will not be a problem, when safety is concerned.
Conservative north-east MSP called the development “shambolic” and said north-east businesses were losing money every day due to the delay.
Mr Matheson said he would take no lectures from a member of a party “draining money” from Scotland to the Westminster Exchequer.
North-east Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles claims Transport Minister is “misleading” the north-east people.
He called on Mr Matheson to stop blaming the contractors, the weather and public safety and to take responsibility.
Mr Matheson said Mr Rumbles’ points were unacceptable.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP Stewart Stevenson MSP says would make no sense to open a “duff bridge”.