‘Milestone’ day for Aberdeen as first stretch of AWPR opens

Motorists took to the AWPR for the first time yesterday, marking the beginning of the end to a 70-year wait for a congestion-busting city bypass.

A four-mile stretch of the £745 million route between Parkhill, near Dyce, and Blackdog welcomed its first influx of vehicles on Wednesday morning.

Transport officials tasked with monitoring the new A90 confirmed that traffic “moved well” along it throughout the day.

Politicians said that its opening represented a “landmark day” for the north-east while taxi drivers, business owners and commuters all toasted the long-awaited development.

P&J reporter Tamsin Ross made the journey from Parkhill to Blackdog along the AWPR section in just five minutes and measured the time taken to return via the old road, past Bridge of Don, as 15 to 20 minutes.

The leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Jim Gifford, also sampled the newly constructed trunk road and praised it for showcasing countryside views which have gone unappreciated for years.

He said: “I went out of my way to drive along it and it was fantastic, it offers views of areas you could never see before like Corby Loch.

“The road has been built to superbly high standards, and I was through it in no time.

“This is a proper milestone in the process and I think the rest of it will be of similar quality.”

Co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, Douglas Lumsden, said: “We have been waiting on this for a long time. It won’t be long until we start seeing benefits in terms of reducing congestion and bringing about economic improvements.

“This is a landmark day for Aberdeen and the full opening of the road can’t come soon enough.”

The road opened at midnight and Transport Scotland spent yesterday tracking its usage.

A spokesman said: “The section between Parkhill and Blackdog opened successfully and traffic moved well.

“It was our intention to open new sections of road as they become available and we are doing just that.

“The AWPR will provide thousands of drivers every day with a range of benefits, including reduced journey times, improved journey time reliability, better local access and reduced congestion, while safety will also be enhanced.”

The government was unable to advise on when the next section of the bypass will open, though the route is expected to be in full use this autumn.

The owner of the Kintore-based Caledonia Logisitcs haulier firm, Derek Mitchell, said he was anxiously awaiting the completion of the work.

Mr Mitchell said: “All of us in the haulage business will be jumping up and down when the southern section opens.

“At the moment we sometimes struggle to get our vehicles back to the depot in legal driving time because of traffic problems.”

The newly opened AWPR section has a speed limit of 70mph, with approaching lanes given a reduced limit.

People in Dyce yesterday said they looked forward to improved trade in the village and reduced journey times from now on.

Taxi driver Dean Palmer said: “It will definitely help me in my job. It will make a huge difference.

“It will keep those little back roads clear. Without a doubt I will use it and hop right on that road if I’m going that way.”

Newmachar pensioner Evelyn Rothney added: “I think it will be handy for people. It will improve our drive into town to visit the shops and make the roads quieter.”