Local politicians have reacted with delight to the news that work to dual the A90 between Balmedie and Tipperty is set to start this summer.
Transport Scotland, the government body responsible for the trunk road network, has issued the first contract for the road, which will see contractors moving onto the site to begin work on June 18.
However, amidst the welcome there was also criticism for the Scottish Government from Liberal Democrat and Labour North-East MSPs, who accused the Government of delaying both Balmedie-Tipperty and improvements at Aberdeen’s Haudagin Roundabout by linking the projects to the Aberdeen bypass, which remains subject to a legal challenge.
However, First Minister and Aberdeenshire East SNP MSP Alex Salmond hit back, accusing both Labour and the Lib Dems of presiding over “years of inaction” when they shared government.
“This much needed improvement to one of the key transport corridors in the North East will see more reliable journey times and improved safety for anyone using the A90 north of Aberdeen”, said Mr Salmond.
“I am delighted with this substantial step forward, which will see the removal of the current bottleneck and provide a continuous dual carriageway from Aberdeen to Ellon, opening up the North East like never before.
“After years of inaction by the previous Labour-Liberal administration, it has taken the SNP in Government to get progress on this vital transport project and the constituency is set to benefit.”
Describing the work as “long overdue”, Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said: “I’m delighted with the news that work is finally set to get underway on dualling this busy stretch of the A90. Along with other campaigners, I’ve been working for years to push the Government to get started.
“The sad truth though is that, were it not for the SNP’s dithering, we could already be driving on a new dual carriageway by now. The constant delays to the project have not simply let traffic congestion go on unchecked, but have been a major cause of uncertainty for many local residents.”
North East Labour MSP Richard Baker also welcomed the news, but queried why the Scottish Government was not also able to start work at the Haudagin.
Claiming the SNP had argued in opposition for the Haudagin works to begin before the AWPR was completed, he said the party had since reversed its position.
Ellon & District Conservative Councillor Gillian Owen, who wrote to Mr Salmond in November to urge that work begin on the Balmedie-Tipperty section, said she was “delighted” at the news. Describing it as a “real plus” for the North East, she said: “We all understand that the AWPR is tied up in court but our dualling is not and it’s very good news that we will now see a start to those essential works.”