What will changes to the Haudagain roundabout mean for Aberdeen?
If you live in or near Aberdeen, you’ve probably used the Haudagain Roundabout – and possibly hated the experience. Citizens of Aberdeen are generally fairly stoic in facing the everyday trials and tribulations life brings, but even they can be moved to heights of passion by the ordeal that this “feature” imposes. The location of this roundabout is where the majority of North and South bound traffic meets and conflicts with the main artery connecting the Airport (and substantial suburban towns) to the City – it is the classic crossroads.
Visitors to Aberdeen, coming from the airport, have a very poor first impression - stuck in long queues of stationary traffic, business travellers suffer long delays and commercial traffic, forced to use the Ring Road as there is no bypass, grinds, infuriatingly slowly, onward. At peak times the delays are lengthy, at non peak times they can still be a cause for concern.
Worst of all, emergency vehicles are heavily impeded in making progress – an indictment of the inaction by politicians in failing to address the problem before now.
We’ve been promised that all that will come to an end in the future, with the Scottish Government revealing that it will make improvements to the system. Don’t get too excited about the time you’ll save on your commute though: the work won’t begin until the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) is completed, which is currently anticipated to be in late 2017.
The preferred option includes the construction of a new dual carriageway link road and is expected to be complete by the end of 2019. As far as I can make out, the effect will be to separate the two main traffic flows, at points West and South of the Haudagain itself. This will be done by the construction of a dual carriageway “spur” running approximately NW – SE and taking the airport and Inverurie traffic away from the roundabout. The junctions at each end of the “spur” will control traffic flow by means of traffic lights. A third set of lights will control a crossroads approximately half way along the spur. There will be no works carried out at the Haudagin, itself, it appears.
The engineering and economic assessment for this option predicts it will have ‘minimal disruption’ to road users – but we know how often that happens!
While minimal disruption to road users is promised, disturbance will be caused for residents, with planned demolition of 131 residential/community premises and garden land-take from a further 108 residential properties.
The government says that these plans will provide the best operational performance in terms of journey times, reducing congestion and improving journey time reliability at Haudagain – as well as reducing transport related accidents by decreasing congestion and driver frustration.
I have to say that it seems to be an opportunity missed, yet again, to address the fundamental difficulties this location causes. It is, because of the topographical situation, a difficult engineering problem, requiring a much bolder plan to address the problem. Alas, that would cost a considerable deal of money. Nevertheless, one sees how other European governments deal with infrastructure and one is left wondering why we always seem to get timid solutions, based on cost, not need. The current proposal will prove to be a sticking plaster, at best, and the outcome will be far from a significant improvement.
Let us know your views of the Haudagain roundabout improvements in the comments.