What does the Aberdeen bypass mean for Scotland?
If you’ve been reading the news or driving on the roads in Aberdeen over the past few months, it cannot have escaped your attention that work has begun on a £745m bypass.
Work on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie-Tipperty road scheme is set to run until winter 2017, although it is believed that the Balmedie-Tipperty section of the A90 will be finished ahead of schedule in spring 2017.
The bypass is not a new idea – the first plan for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route came about in 1948, but it wasn’t until 2003 that First Minister Jack McConnell announced the build.
But what does this bypass mean for Aberdeen? The claims made for the route are as follows.
It will bring over 58km of new road, a dozen new junctions, 14 miles of new slip roads, two new river crossings, and 150 other structures to Aberdeen.
Transport Scotland – which is working on the project – claims that there will be many benefits to the scheme, including boosting the economy, reducing congestion, improving journey times, cutting pollution in the city centre and improving road safety.
The national transport agency has said that the bypass will improve business competitiveness and stimulate investment by providing a guaranteed fast-link for freight and goods from the North East to markets in the South, improving access to both the city centre and periphery areas such as Buchan and Fraserburgh, as well as expanding labour catchment areas and providing less stressful commuter journeys.
It is claimed that the combined impact of increased sales and reduced costs across the key sectors will be worth more than £6bn in the North East of Scotland, with the prediction that 14,000 jobs will be created over the next three decades.
Those in favour of the plan hail reduced congestion as a big advantage of the bypass, with predicted figures from a Transport Scotland report suggesting that there will be a decrease of 8,600 vehicles on the A90 North of Stonehaven in the first year of opening.
Quicker journey times for commuters is also being hailed as a key benefit of the infrastructure investment. For example, at the moment, a typical morning journey between Stonehaven and Dyce takes 55 minutes. With the bypass, the average time of the journey would be reduced to 28 minutes.
However, those against the scheme have concerns about the environmental impact of the development, including the tarmacing of the countryside and reduced air quality in areas of the new road.
Other complaints include the disruption caused by the need to demolish and rebuild the A90 flyover at Stonehaven, as well as office blocks and work sites that have been set up along the route of the bypass without nearby residents being consulted.
With work already underway on the scheme, there is little the objectors – who include WWF and Transform Scotland – can do.
Just what benefits the route will bring for Aberdeen and the North East, remains to be seen when the route is completed in two years’ time, but there are grounds for believing that the delay in commencing the construction may prove the road has been overtaken by traffic volume.
What are your views on the bypass? Let us know in the comments.