Commuters are facing weeks of traffic chaos as road chiefs battle to complete key city-centre projects.
The local authority announced last night that work to refurbish the Market Street-Guild Street traffic lights is a week ahead of schedule – but the northbound carriageway is reduced to one lane.
And work on the southbound carriageway is being largely confined to nighttime because of the unexpected high volume of traffic heading for the Union Square shopping centre during the first week of the Easter holidays.
Meanwhile, motorists are having to struggle through the gridlock as the much delayed and £3million over-budget Third Don Crossing projects remains unfinished.
And a source predicted last night that the £22.3million scheme would not be completed until July.
It was supposed to be open to traffic “by March” after a string of hold-ups.
But council chiefs had to perform a U-turn last month and sign a two-month extension with contractor Balfour Beatty, despite senior administration members saying they would “accept no excuses” for more setbacks.
SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said the Labour-Conservative-Independent council administration had “serious questions” to answer about the project.
Local authority bosses were forced to bring forward the traffic lights works near Union Square and the bus station after multiple failings of the signals at one of the city’s busiest junctions.
As part of the project it was necessary to reintroduce the closure of the straight-ahead lane from Trinity Quay into Guild Street for the safety of the workforce and the increased traffic flows.
A council spokeswoman said last night that the Easter period had been chosen to “minimise disruption” to drivers.
She said: “Aberdeen City Council had brought forward the works from the next financial year to 2015-16 due to several recent failures of the lights.
“Motorists should be aware this junction is extremely busy and a total failure of the lights would have serious consequences on the traffic flows within the city centre, cause serious delays and affect the public transport network and journey times.”
But last night opposition councillors criticised the administration’s roads plan, with one saying his ward had become a warren of “rat-runs” in recent months.
Rosemount and Midstocket member Bill Cormie said: “The city centre has been a total nightmare recently.
“In my ward there have been a lot of problems with rat-running and people finding difficulties in getting up and down the wee residential streets.
“The council should definitely have staggered the works more.
“The Don Crossing is just one part of the puzzle – after this they will need to get moving on the Berryden Corridor.
“If they had got the Don Crossing finished on time then we might not be in this situation.
Last night a within Balfour Beatty warned commuters to expect more delays on the multimillion pound link between Tillydrone and Bridge of Don.
He said: “If you want my honest opinion it won’t be until July at the earliest.
“There have been a lot of mistakes made by both us and the council in this.”
Infrastructure convener Neil Cooney said: “While it is good the work is ahead of schedule by a week and the lane closure is happening during a traditionally quieter time for city centre traffic, we were conscious about keeping the southbound road open during the day, as Union Square shopping centre will be.
“It is one of the busiest city-centre junctions and the work should make a big difference to the reliability of the traffic lights.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the works and we would ask motorists to find an alternative route if at all possible.”
Rosemount resident Willie Jaffray said: “I think the traffic right now is absolutely diabolical, it’s really havoc down at Guild Street.
“But then again, what can you say, it’s Aberdeen City Council, isn’t it?
“If you go on a bus down through that area, it’s absolutely terrible at peak periods, it’s just at a standstill.”
Dustin Macdonald, the chairman of the city centre community council said: “There was one day last week that was particularly bad, I know there are a few big traffic orders coming up which will last a few weeks at a time, and I’m sure that’ll cause more delays to all surrounding areas.
“It’s a good idea for folk to prepare for these delays through the city centre, because delays are likely.”