SNP councillors in Aberdeen have pledged to spend tens of millions of pounds on a new bridge across the River Dee – if they seize control of the local authority at May elections.
Nationalists in the city have put the congesting-busting project at the heart of their manifesto for the spring poll.
They believe a new crossing would “transform” the entrance to the city from the south and get rid of the notorious bottleneck which causes huge hold-ups on the A90.
The ambitious scheme could cost between £0million-£60million.
Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP group on the city council, said it was “essential” to capitalise on the improved transport links which will be created by the completion of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).
Plans for a new river crossing have been on the table since early last year.
Council chiefs unveiled a trio of designs, which would all retain the 16th century Bridge of Dee for pedestrians and cyclists.
One option – known as concept 6 – would involve a dual carriageway link road between Garthdee Road and the A90 Aberdeen-Dundee route.
Concept 6B contains all the elements of concept 6, with the addition of a new link road between Inchgarth Road and the A93 North Deeside Road.
Concept 7, which is favoured by the SNP, would include a new arch crossing alongside the existing Bridge of Dee.
Councillor Flynn said: “With transport links around our city being improved thanks to the AWPR it is absolutely essential that we capitalise on this and do our bit to improve the infrastructure in this part of our city.
“Obviously, any development will need to be sympathetic to the historical magnificence of the Bridge of Dee and not impact the river itself, but I believe this can be achieved and I’m excited about doing so.
“Our local communities, commuters and businesses will all benefit from this development and an SNP administration will ensure this bridge becomes a reality.”
A new crossing over the Dee has been supported by the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.
The 16-member SNP group is the main opposition to the ruling Labour-Conservative-Independent alliance administration at the city council..
The Nationalists would need to increase their numbers to at least 23 to win a majority of the 45 seats on the local authority.
Paul O’Connor, chairman of the Inchgarth Community Centre, has long opposed building the bridge near Robert Gordon University’s campus.
Last night, he cautiously welcomed the SNP plan, but added: “I would warn any political party that if they press ahead with a bridge near RGU then they will face a campaign from residents and businesses like they have never seen.”
But administration finance vice-convener Alan Donnelly, a Conservative councillor, said: “My personal view would be to go for the upstream bridge which would allow for easier access to the Garthdee shopping venues and the university campus.
“I think building a new link beside the Bridge of Dee would detract from its historic value and have a big visual impact to an iconic entrance to the city.”
Labour infrastructure convener Neil Cooney said: “I think much depends on the availability of finances.
“We recognise that it is a key priority for any administration.”
James Bream, research and policy director at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Continued investment in infrastructure in the north-east remains a high priority for business in the region and a new River Dee crossing is an important transport project on which chamber members want to see action.
“It is one of the projects we have listed as being critical and that our councillors must make happen.
“It will contribute towards £1billion of investment into the region’s transport improvements and importantly for road users it will ease a notorious bottleneck.”