The reopening of a major Aberdeen road has been further delayed – and critics have called it “a shambles”.
A section of Upperkirkgate and Broad Street is currently shut as part of the £3.2 million regeneration and Aberdeen City Council had hoped to reopen the road in December.
But the discovery of an underground concrete slab and blocked drains have meant a road closure has had to be extended until January.
Council chiefs said the Christmas market will be unaffected, and they will meet affected traders fortnightly to address their concerns,
A city council spokesman said: “We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to customers in the area and we are working closely with the contractor to try to reopen Upper-kirkgate and Broad Street early where possible.”
Aberdeen SNP group leader Councillor Stephen Flynn said: “Bluntly, this news is grim.
“In Upperkirkgate, I’m unsure why the council initially advised local business that work would take a few weeks, then around 18 weeks before announcing that even that deadline will be missed by two months – what a shambles.”
Explaining the delay, the council spokeswoman said: “Unexpected problems happening during the project, including the discovery of a soft spot in the ground, which is thought to have taken place when the exploratory groundworks were being carried out for the old building at the site, St Nicholas House.
“There were also problems with our ongoing connections to drainage pipes, with concrete found within underground pipes and repairs required to the utility company’s pipes.”
She added: “Work has taken place to solve these problems and further exploratory works are also planned to be carried out on Queen Street to ensure there will be no further problems with utilities.
“A temporary surface is to be put down on Broad Street to accommodate the Christmas village and work will resume on the project after the festive period, with a phased opening of the works leading up to late spring/early summer 2018 when it is expected that the works will be fully complete.”
Cllr Flynn added: “We were advised that this main artery within our centre would be complete in time for the opening of Marischal Square, but now we learn it could be anywhere up to nine months later.
“The fact that this overrun means we’ll incur the cost of putting down and digging up yet another temporary surface, this time to support the Christmas market, is ridiculous.”
The council’s head of planning and sustainable development, Eric Owens, said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to meet with traders frequently.
“We’ve suggested having a session every two weeks.
“We’re committed to working closely with them and to take away any thoughts they have about how we can support them.”
Asked whether the council or contractors could have done anything to avoid the delays, Mr Owens said: “Working in an urban environment is always difficult.
“The slab was unforeseen from the council’s perspective and we never intended to touch the pipes.
“It would be difficult to foresee some of these events.”