Aberdeen bypass more successful than anticipated, study suggests

The road opened on February 19 last year (Transport Scotland/PA)

The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) may be more efficient than anticipated when it comes to easing congestion in Scotland’s third largest city, according to new data. Opened on February 19 last year, the bypass was intended to cut traffic through the city – particularly HGVs – by offering a route around its outskirts. A “data snapshot” has shown HGV congestion fall between 49% and 61% on the A92 artery – known as the A90 before the road opened –  through Aberdeen, depending on the location surveyed, between January and June last year when compared with the same period in 2014.

Initially, it was thought traffic would reduce by between 20% and 36%.

Extensive delays and cost overruns had brought condemnation from opposition parties as Carillion collapsed and the Beast from the East shut down construction and the final price rose above the GBP1 billion mark. A series of snagging issues on a bridge over the River Don also held up the official opening of the final sections of road. A joint investment between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government, the road was hailed by public figures when it opened last year.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The AWPR/B-T’s first anniversary is a significant milestone and it is important to recognise the transformational effect this project has had on people’s daily lives in the north east. “The benefits of the project are plain for everyone to see, enhancing the quality of life for tens of thousands of people. “In addition to the widely reported improvements to journey times for drivers using the AWPR/B-T, it is clear from the reduction in the proportion of HGVs on the A92 that businesses are benefiting from the option of a faster and more reliable route to and from the north-east.

“Equally, other road users and communities alike benefit greatly from HGVs transferring to the new trunk road.” He added: “The AWPR is also providing the local authorities with an opportunity to improve and expand public transport and active travel, as traffic has been moved to a more appropriate route.”

Aberdeen bypass more successful than anticipated, study suggestsCouncil leaders hailed the effect of the bypass on the city and the north-east as a whole (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing said: “The AWPR, supported by the council’s GBP75 million investment, is a vital component of Aberdeen City Council’s GBP1 billion capital programme and it will allow us to deliver on both the economic and transport aims set out in our regional economic strategy.” Fellow co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the council is taking advantage of reduced traffic in the city centre.

Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford said: “These initial statistics echo the positive indications we’ve had from residents and businesses about reduced and more predictable journey times. “The reduction in HGV traffic from rural routes is really being noticed, along with an overall reduction of traffic on the B-class network. “We’re also hearing of increased visitor numbers to the likes of Stonehaven and Westhill as a result of the improved infrastructure.”

Martin Reid, director of the Road Haulage Association, also praised the bypass, particularly for its benefits to hauliers.

He said: “The AWPR allows road freight to keep moving avoiding the bottlenecks that were all too familiar on the old A90.

“There is also little doubt that the reduction in traffic congestion will have a positive effect on air quality and quality of life in general for the residents who live along the old route.”