Transport Scotland is the national transport agency in the country, responsible for ensuring a safe, efficient, cost effective system is in place in Scotland.
The agency is delivering a number of high profile infrastructure projects, one of which is the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, one of the largest projects in the country, costing an estimated £745 million.
It has been in the news in recent months because fallen construction giant Carillion was one of the companies delivering the scheme for Transport Scotland.
Business Britain spoke to Transport Scotland’s Project Manager, Douglas Laird, who explained the work on the scheme and the challenges in light of Carillion’s liquidation.
This is an excerpt of a more in-depth interview that will appear in the next Transport Britain publication.
Could you give us some background about the project and what it will provide?
The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route /Balmedie to Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland and is part of Transport Scotland’s commitment to improving travel in the north east of the country.
The AWPR/B-T is the largest Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) contract in Scotland. The contract is founded on the Scottish Government’s Non Profit Distributing (NPD) model. Aberdeen Roads Limited was appointed in December 2014, following a 23-month procurement period.
The new road will be 58km long and is expected to open in Autumn 2018. It will consist of four sections:
Balmedie to Tipperty: 12km from Blackdog to Tipperty
Northern Leg: 16.1km from North Kingswells to Blackdog
Southern Leg: 18.7km from Charleston to North Kingswells
Fastlink: 11.5km from Stonehaven to Cleanhill
The construction of the AWPR/B-T route will also include 40km of new side roads, 30km of access tracks, 12 junctions, two river major crossings at the River Dee and River Don, a bridge for the Aberdeen to Inverness Railway and three wildlife bridges in addition to more than 100 other structures.
Why was there a need for this infrastructure scheme?
Aberdeen lies at the intersection of several major roads, including the A90 and A96 Trunk Roads. The resulting traffic travelling across Aberdeen goes through the heart of the city, contributing to congestion, diverting traffic to unsuitable urban and rural roads and disrupting local communities . It also impacts on the effective operation of Aberdeen’s established public transport systems. In addition, the high volumes of existing traffic are diverting to use unsuitable local roads around the city. As a result, journeys can become difficult and time-consuming, and environmental impacts associated with congested traffic occur.
The pre-existing A90 Balmedie to Tipperty (B-T) route was a single carriageway and is a major bottleneck – carrying some 22,000 vehicles per day, of which approximately 10% are heavy goods vehicles. It is affected by a “tidal flow pattern” – with peak travel flow during morning commuter hours containing a significant portion of freight traffic. The road also caters for local access to the communities of Balmedie, Foveran and Tipperty as well as individual properties and farmland along the road.
In 2010, Scottish Minister’s indicated that B-T would be combined with the AWPR as part of a wider programme of projects to be delivered utilising the Non-Profit Distributing (NDP) form of contract.
This project was part of a joint venture involving Carillion. What challenges has the company’s liquidation brought up for you?
Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try took the necessary steps to jointly continue the delivery of the remainder of this project following Carillion’s announcement. We are continuing to work closely with Aberdeen Roads Limited to mitigate any impacts that may arise as a consequence of this announcement.
How has this affected the delivery of the scheme?
Transport Scotland, along with its technical advisers, estimate that the new AWPR/B-T trunk road will be completed during Autumn 2018.
The contractor, Aberdeen Roads Limited, has continued to assure us that it remains fully committed to completing the project at the earliest opportunity that it can safely do so. It is in the interests of all partners to complete the project and open the new roads.
We are currently exploring options which could see elements of the project brought forward, where possible.
Read the full interview in the next Transport Britain publication.