This weekend communities will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk along the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).
As the AWPR reaches its final stretch, this landmark event – the GoNorthEast Road Festival – will be the first community festival of this kind held on a major new Scottish road project.
I was fortunate to go behind the scenes and see the set up at Milltimber yesterday and it looks like it will be an incredible weekend with activities and entertainment for all ages.
From the initial discussions around the merits of a bypass in the late 1940s to the recent opening of major new sections, the region has been on a 70-year journey to make this new road a reality.
This weekend’s free festival is about thanking people for the patience and understanding that they have shown, particularly during the construction period.
As well as street performers, interactive displays, historic exhibitions and country walks, 120 vintage and modern vehicles will be on display while cyclists will have a unique opportunity to experience a 18km loop of the route on Sunday morning.
This festival will give people a glimpse of how, working with local authorities, communities and Government, a £745 million engineering project can be delivered in a way that is sympathetic to the surrounding environment as well as give people an opportunity to take in the excellent vistas and new perspectives on the Aberdeenshire countryside.
Over the last few months several sections of the road have opened and Transport Scotland is continuing to work with the contractor to identify further sections that can open early to traffic
The AWPR is not just an important project for the north east, but it will be beneficial to people across Scotland.
It will breathe new life into the city and improve connectivity both within and outwith Scotland’s energy capital.
Once operational it will provide thousands of drivers with safer journeys, reduced journey times, improved journey time reliability, better local access and reduced congestion, every day.
As you would expect with a major road like this, cyclists will not be permitted but reduced traffic on other routes in and around the city and Shire will provide safer, cleaner cycling opportunities.
And the benefits of this infrastructure on the economy cannot be ignored, it is estimated to generate more than £6 million additional income for the north east, while 14,000 jobs are expected to be created over the next 30 years.
Anticipation is already growing for the opening of the full route and this festival is a unique way of building on this momentum.
I would encourage people who will soon see feel the full benefits of the new road to join in this weekend’s celebrations.