Motorists are facing a year-and-a-half of delays and disruption on a key Aberdeen commuter route – so a key stretch of the city’s new bypass to be built.
Temporary traffic lights and lane restrictions will be in place on the A93 North Deeside Road at Milltimber from the end of this week until July.
And drivers have been warned that construction work on the busy route into the city from the west will last about 18 months.
But a north-east MSP said last night the relatively short-term pain for commuters would be worth it for the benefits the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route would deliver.
The bypass is now due for completion in late 2017, earlier than the original scheduled date of spring 2018, but the project was mired in court battles for a number of years.
The total budget for the route, as well as the dualling of a section of the A90 Aberdeen-Peterhead road between Tipperty and Balmedie, is currently estimated at about £745million.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Government roads agency Transport Scotland said the initial traffic management work on the A93 would start on Friday and run until July 6.
However, intermittent construction work is expected to continue for 18 months.
The spokeswoman for the AWPR project said: “The A93 (North Deeside Road) at its junction with the B979 (Milltimber Brae Road) will be subject to periods of traffic management between Friday, May 1 and Monday, July 6.
“The next phase will involve the construction of a temporary local diversion in the area and will follow shortly afterwards.
“The remaining phases will include the construction of a bridge to carry the A93 over the AWPR and a signal-controlled junction between the A93 and B979.
“As with any traffic management works, we advise motorists to plan their journeys in advance and thank road users for their patience during this period.”
And Aberdeen South and North Kincardine SNP MSP Maureen Watt said: “It is obvious that communities along the route will face disruption.
“It is inevitable, but I am sure the contractors will keep disruption to the absolute minimum.
“It will be well worth it when we have a decent road system in the north-east.
Meanwhile, Aberdeen City’s Council deputy leader Marie Boulton said last night she feared the frustration in store for commuters could be a “taste of things to come” in the Lower Deeside area when the 28-mile bypass is completed.
Mrs Boulton, an independent who was elected to the council on an anti-bypass ticket in 2007, has predicted a permanent signalised junction between the North Deeside Road and Milltimber Brae Road will cause major congestion problems once the AWPR opens.
She said traffic restrictions over the past year on the North Deeside Road had caused “huge tailbacks” on what is the only route into the centre of Aberdeen from communities in the west, including Culter and Milltimber.
She said: “People will accept there has to be a certain level of disruption.
“I have just received the May schedule and it is mostly weekends.
“People from Culter with children who attend Cults Academy are worried, but it is not going to start until 9,30am, so children will be able to get in ok.
“I think one of the concerns that people have is not necessarily about this phase or any future phase, it is going to be what’s going to happen when permanent traffic lights are going to be put in.
“These roadworks will just be a taster for what we will see in terms of tailbacks.”
Mrs Boulton said the council and Transport Scotland officials would be monitoring the traffic flows, and added the management of the lights systems would be “crucial”.