Call for early completion of AWPR near airport

The Scottish Government was last night facing fresh pressure to speed up plans for major road improvements near Aberdeen International Airport.

The terminal’s managing director Carol Benzie said she hoped the section of the city’s bypass nearest the Dyce complex would be given priority for early completion.

She said passengers getting stuck in traffic for 40 minutes waiting to leave the airport was not a “great welcome” to Aberdeen for them – and was bad for local businesses.

Ms Benzie added the issue was “causing major headaches and complaints”.

The 28-mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) will link the Aberdeen-Dundee stretch of the A90 at Stonehaven and Charleston with Aberdeen-Ellon section of the A90 at Blackdog to the north of the city.

Connect Roads – made up of Balfour Beatty, Galliford Try and Carillion – was named preferred contractor for the long-awaited scheme earlier this year.

The £745million project includes dualling a stretch of the Aberdeen-Ellon road between Balmedie and Tipperty.

The project as a whole is expected to be completed by 2018.

Transport Minister Keith Brown, who worked at the airport as a freight driver 35 years ago, said the government was “well aware of the frustration” felt by people and the issue was on its radar.

Ms Benzie said she was pleased a contractor had been appointed but the completion date of the bypass “does seem a long way away”.

“With significant developments around the airport campus, some of which are nearing completion, the pressure on this vital route to the city is causing major headaches and complaints coming my way,” she added.

“It is not a great welcome to Aberdeen to sit in traffic or a taxi for 40 minutes just to get to the top of the airport road.”

Ms Benzie said she would be “delighted” if the airport leg of the AWPR was completed sooner than later

“It cannot come quick enough for us because it is holding up business in the Dyce area altogether.

“Any speeding up of the process would be welcomed with both arms.”

Barney Crockett, convener of Aberdeen City Council’s enterprise, strategic planning and infrastructure committee, said easing congestion at the airport was the “number one transport priority”.

“We have made it crystal clear to the government and others we fully expect that to be the first part of the AWPR that is attended to.”

North-east Conservative MSP Nanette Milne said she “fully supported” calls for work to commence on the northern leg of the AWPR to address congestion at the airport and on Dyce Drive.

“I have written to Keith Brown to ask for this to be investigated and I hope that this positive suggestion could commence at the earliest opportunity,” she added.

North-east Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said people needed to see the benefits from the bypass as quickly as possible because the project had been “delayed for so long”.

“If opening sections around the airport is the most beneficial way forward in the short-term, then the government should take heed and just get on with it,” she added.

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bob Collier said the area around the airport was a “pressure point”.

“Companies expect that the AWPR will have a significant positive impact on business,” he added.

“So we would welcome smart planning related to the phasing of the AWPR to provide maximum relief as early as possible in the most congested areas.”

Mr Brown said: “We are happy to talk to the airport and the council once we have the preferred contractor in place to look at which parts, if any, we can advance.

“The airport is an obvious choke point so it could be an early win there if we can do that.”

Mr Brown said the SNP government inherited Aberdeen’s road infrastructure problems from previous administrations but “real progress” was being made.