Minister: dualling contract awarded

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THE Scottish Government has announced the award of a £580,000 contract to allow ground investigation as part of the A90 dualling between Tipperty and Balmedie.

The contract will allow company Soil Mechanics to undertake preliminary surveys of the carriageway’s route in anticipation of construction starting on the AWPR soon.

However, the announcement comes on the same day that pressure group Road Sense took their appeal against the Western Peripheral Route - which includes the Tipperty to Balmedie dualling - to the Supreme Court, with the stated aim of calling a halt to the project. The two day hearing concluded on Tuesday, and a result can be expected in the next couple of weeks.

Critics - including local Liberal Democrat MSP Alison MacInnes - have argued that the two projects should be de-coupled, which would allow the Balmedie-Tipperty project to go ahead immediately. However the Government reply that the only way to deliver the project within a reasonable budget is by bundling the two projects together, and that it would make no sense to construct one without the other given the present traffic situation in Aberdeen.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The dualling scheme of the Balmedie-Tipperty section of the A90 will alleviate the bottleneck caused by the existing single carriageway resulting in improved and more reliable journey times and enhanced safety for road users.

“The £580,000 we have made available reinforces our commitment to improve both this and other major strategic roads in the north east of Scotland, and I’m delighted this investment will allow our appointed contractors to begin the essential ground investigations work in the coming weeks to ensure the Balmedie-Tipperty scheme is up to the same level of readiness as the AWPR.

“In relation to the AWPR, the Scottish Government remains totally committed to the scheme being completed as soon as possible. Ministers have done everything in their power to progress the appeal hearing as soon as possible and welcome the start of the next stage of the process. We are prepared and ready to defend the appeal so that we can get on and build this much needed road as soon as possible.”

Ellon councillor Richard Thomson added that the news would be a welcome boost to the area.

“This is welcome news, which demonstrates the SNP government’s unshakable commitment to improving the infrastructure of the North East,” he said.

“With the Supreme Court hearing the AWPR legal objections this week, I hope that the work will soon be able to begin on both of these vital stretches of dual carriageway.”

However, Liberal Democrat MSP Alison Macinnes said: “I repeat my calls to the Transport Minister to decouple the Balmedie-Tipperty project from Aberdeen bypass immediately. It is a shambles that road users have had to wait this long.”