The Scottish Government is poised to hand over more than £500million to the contractors building the Aberdeen bypass as the work nears completion.
Despite the 36-mile road being just a few months away from completion, the Press and Journal has learned that less than a third of the project’s £745million budget has been spent.
Transport Scotland confirmed last night that the total spending on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) to date has been just over £233million.
The Scottish Government agency said that the rest of the cash would be paid when the road is opened, meaning £512million will be transferred to the consortium building the road early next year.
Some of companies involved have suffered in recent months, in part due to the scale of the AWPR scheme.
Galliford Try – parent company of bypass builder Morrison Construction – witnessed its shares plunge by more than 9% in May, reportedly due to an unexpected and additional £78million bill for the Queensferry Crossing bridge and the AWPR.
Consortium partner Carillion has also been thrown into crisis since a hefty profit warning in July sent its shares tumbling by more than 70% in one week, with most of its UK write-down believed to be related to three public-private partnership projects, one of which was the AWPR .
While the city bypass is proving costly for at least two of the three partners in the Aberdeen Roads consortium, the project will not impact on the public purse a penny more as the price is fixed.
Peter Argyle, deputy leader of Aberdeenshire Council and chairman of north-east transport partnership Nestrans, said the road was expected to open in late spring next year.
“Last time I talked to the council director he told me it is absolutely on budget. It’s unlikely to come in under-budget, but hopefully not over-budget either.
“The most recent news is that it’s on time and on budget. It’s staged payments.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The agreed cost for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie-Tipperty contract is fixed at £745 million.
“In line with other projects of this nature, payments are made to the contractor as the roads become available.
“The current spend to date on all sections of the project is £233,060,642, which includes, but is not limited to: land purchase; compensation to landowners; utilities; site investigation and environmental surveys and the costs of technical/legal/financial support.”