Initial monitoring by Transport Scotland has found that the use of the new Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) has significantly improved air quality and reduced congestion in the north east of Scotland.
The £745 million AWPR opened in its entirety in February – one of Scotland’s largest ever infrastructure projects – and because it is now open to motorists, traffic has been shifted from Aberdeen city onto the route.
According to the monitoring, approximately half of the city’s traffic has moved onto the AWPR; key journey times have been reduced by approximately 50% through the 36-mile route between Stonehaven and south of Ellon.
This is even the case during rush hour, making a significant impact on air quality and congestion.
Air quality is high on the agenda at the moment; with pollution the fourth biggest threat to public health, local authorities are trying to tackle this health issue, with recent commitments from the councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow to reduce their carbon footprint and therefore, the air quality in those respective cities.
The AWPR hasn’t been without problems of its own. One of its biggest contractors was Carillion, who went into liquidation as the project was ongoing. Transport Scotland dealt with the potential problems admirably and now, the route is providing “huge benefits” to the economy.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The AWPR has brought huge benefits to the north east with these initial findings showing both journey times and congestion have improved.
“Its success is a clear sign that the north east is an attractive place to work and do business. It is expected to generate an extra £6 billion in economic benefits and create around 14,000 jobs over the next 30 years.
“As a result of the AWPR, vehicles that were previously sitting in nose-to-tail traffic and causing pollution have now shifted, leading to lower emissions in the city. This has the potential to improve air quality for around 75,000 homes and will improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists in Aberdeen city.”