What will the Third Don Crossing mean for Aberdeen?
For those of a certain age, accustomed to the many years of frustration attempting to exit Aberdeen City Northwards, the announcement of the “Third Don Crossing” was regarded initially with disbelief – surely some mistake.
Ever since the oil industry came to Aberdeen there has been a completely inadequate provision of transport infrastructure to the North East from Aberdeen City. Simply travelling from the City Centre to the Bridge of Don would, at peak times, take over 30 minutes. Things were just as bad for those travelling into Aberdeen. At any time of day, if any incident occurred on the road network, gridlock would rapidly ensue.
The only alternative to the Bridge of Don was the Persley Bridge, involving an expedition around the notorious Haudagain roundabout. Not for the faint hearted, the Haudagain rivals the Arc de Triomphe for nervous excitement. For a while there was a third crossing at Grandholm, but that was closed down.
The plans for the Third Don Crossing began a decade ago, with the aim to reduce traffic flows on the A947 and at the Bridge of Don on the A956, and a projected cost of £6.3m. What’s interesting to note is that an original plan for a third Don crossing was initially refused planning permission in 1981, after the council discussed options in the 1970s.
It was with some excitement, therefore, and a certain sense of unreality that citizens of Aberdeen learned that, after years of prevarication and political posturing, the City fathers had decided to go ahead with the project.
Many commuters will have felt a degree of anticipation last month when they saw pictures of the final structural section of the bridge being lifted into place.
The £18m infrastructure investment is long overdue and I’m hopeful that the eagerly awaited bridge will mitigate congestion across the city. It is very unfortunate that this was project was not commenced much earlier than it has been. The effect of the bottlenecks, at the two Don crossings, on the economy of towns to the North of Aberdeen cannot have been beneficial and the Third Don Crossing, coupled with the road improvements to the Peterhead Road and the northern spur of the peripheral road, should greatly improve matters. What a shame it has taken so long.
Aberdeen is an economic driver but, sadly, hasn’t had the infrastructure to match its emergence as a global player in the oil industry. For too long there has been a lack of structured investment. The Third Don Crossing is, however belatedly, an indication that the local authority is finally recognising the need to ensure that Aberdeen has the transport links to match the size of its economy.
The investment will, hopefully, play a key role in supporting business development at a time when our economy is feeling the effects from the global oil crisis.
The Third Don Crossing will mitigate the bottlenecks going in and out of the city, improving commuter times and making the outlying areas more accessible to the city. If so, we can expect to see development follow the new road network.
The bridge certainly carries a heavy weight of expectation.
Time will tell if the designers and planners have provided an impetus to drive future growth across the North East economy.
We await a new Don when the bridge finally opens in January 2016.