Pivotal stretch of delayed £1bn Aberdeen bypass opens
A key 20-mile section of the delayed Aberdeen bypass has opened to traffic.
The bypass – stretching 36 miles (58 km) – was approved by Scottish ministers back in 2009.
However, the £745m project fell behind schedule, and is now expected to cost more than £1bn.
The 32km Craibstone to Stonehaven and Charleston section opened on Wednesday morning. It is hoped the River Don crossing, completing the bypass route, can also open this month.
Police have said extra patrols will be on the road for its first day of operation.
The bypass is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Scotland.
Business and council leaders argued it was vital for the north east economy.
After being approved in 2009, campaigners challenged the decision of Scottish ministers.
However, an appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court failed in 2012.
Preparatory work began in August 2014, and construction began in February 2015.
The first main bypass section – between Parkhill and Blackdog – opened in June, and the Balmedie to Tipperty section of the bypass fully opened to traffic in August.
Last week, Stephen Tarr, of contractor Balfour Beatty, told MSPs that consent had been secured for a contract variation which paved the way for the opening of the completed Craibstone to Stonehaven and Charleston section.
It is hoped the River Don crossing, which has been delayed by defects, will be able to open before Christmas, but this is subject to possible weather or technical issues.
The bypass was due to open in the spring but was put back to autumn.
Discussions are ongoing about liability for the extra costs.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This new section of road, which will make more than 85% of the project open to traffic, will immediately make a tremendous difference to road users across the north east.
“We would like to thank local communities, road users and businesses from across the north east and beyond who have been extremely patient while these works were ongoing and discussions were under way regarding the contract variation required for this new section to open.”