Transport bosses were today slammed by MSPs after the Evening Express took to the skies to reveal the true state of the AWPR works.
And after viewing our images, one MSP said he feared the £745 million Aberdeen bypass wouldn’t fully open until next year, while another lambasted the Scottish Government, saying it had “entirely lost control” of the project.
Transport Scotland today said it still could not confirm an exact opening date of either the full bypass, including the River Don crossing, or other sections of it.
The pictures, taken from a helicopter, show the scale of works still ongoing to repair problems with the new A90 River Don bridge near Dyce – which Transport Scotland has repeatedly described as having “minor defects”.
Peter Chapman, Scottish Conservative North East MSP, said: “This footage shows what many people driving past will already have thought, it looks a long way from completion. The whole project was supposed to be finished by now, and we have already endured a year-long delay to the Tipperty-Balmedie stretch.
“More recently, SNP ministers have said it will be ready in autumn, which at the very latest would be the end of November.
“Judging by these pictures, we could be into next year before this road is fully ready to open.
“If that is the case, then the SNP and Transport Scotland should just come clean and say so.
“People in the north-east have waited a long time and have put up with a lot of disruption for this road. It should not be too much to ask for a date to be set for when it will be finished.”
With two tower cranes continuing to loom over the key link, The Evening Express understands various works – including waterproofings, surfacing, work to the bridge parapets, cabling and lighting still need to be undertaken.
And a bypass source said that bad weather could still hamper the completion of the bridge further.
North East MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Mike Rumbles said: “First of all I want to thank The Evening Express for bringing this evidence to light and showing the public just how much work has still to be done.
“I have repeatedly asked Scottish Government ministers when the road will be ready and not once have I received a clear answer.
“One thing certainly is clear – the Scottish Government has entirely lost control of this project.
“What makes matters worse is that it thinks it can pull the wool over the eyes of the public and local representatives.
“The new transport minister must get a grip of this appalling situation straight away.”
The Evening Express revealed in August repair works were needed to the bridge.
Transport Scotland has not revealed what the defects in the bridge were but has said the remedial works will not add any extra cost to the taxpayer.
The AWPR project has suffered a number of setbacks including the collapse of Carillion, one of the construction partners on the scheme.
There has also been anger over months of possible disruption when the route finally opens. Transport Scotland previously announced more than 30 restrictions that would be in place after the route’s opening.
Temporary speed limits of 40mph and 50mph could last up to three months to prevent the road from being damaged.
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A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “As we’ve previously explained, some concrete panels are being replaced on the River Don Crossing after minor defects were identified through the rigorous quality control processes used on the project.
“Road surfacing on or adjacent to the bridge is one of the final work activities and it involves a number of phases which, although weather dependent, are relatively straightforward to complete.
“The contractor, Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL), will undertake the necessary remedial works to ensure that they are completed to the appropriate standard, at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
“More generally, there are a range of finishing works which are currently being undertaken by the contractor across the route – including the completion of side roads, surfacing, access tracks, accommodation works, fencing and landscape planting.
“Transport Scotland is looking forward to delivering the benefits of the new road at the earliest opportunity.
“However, ARL has confirmed that the road is not yet ready to open to traffic while works are ongoing at the River Don Crossing, although we continue to work with the contractor to ensure that sections of the road can be opened as soon as it is possible, in the safest manner and when the contractor is in a position to do so.
“As with all complex civil engineering projects of this scale, delivery and completion of certain elements of work are dependent on a variety of factors throughout the project including weather, scheduling of other works and availability of specialist resources for certain tasks.
“It is therefore not possible to confirm the exact opening date for the remaining sections at this time.”