The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try are delivering this monster project, building 58 km of road that will snake across the north-east of Scotland once completed.
It is perhaps the most complex ongoing civil engineering job in this country, and JV partner Galliford Try announced today just how much it would be hit by the scheme.
The contractor revealed the project would eat into more than £150m of its cash reserves, but announced to the market that it had secured backers for its £157.6m rights issue of new shares to cover the costs.
This job has been plagued with issues, with the saga beginning before shovels even hit the ground in February 2015.
A local campaigner named William Walton from the protest group Road Sense launched a legal challenge in May 2010, claiming the selection of the route was “fundamentally flawed and unjust”.
The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court but was rejected, allowing the team to finally start work in February 2015.
But time was not on their side – a theme that has come up time and again throughout this troubled tale.
Scottish economy secretary Keith Brown admitted in December 2016 the Balmedie-to-Tipperty section of the project would be delayed until 2017. The scheme had been hit by severe weather and earthworks had not been completed prior to the winter.
This opening date was pushed back again until summer 2018 in February when Galliford Try announced the delay in its financial update.
Balfour Beatty confirmed earlier this month in its own financial update the firm was targeting a summer completion.
The collapse of previous JV partner Carillion in January has been cited as one factor for the delay. Following Carillion’s liquidation, Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try announced they would have to foot a £80m bill to complete the project.
The AWPR was one of the projects said to have been a major factor behind Carillion’s demise. Indeed, former chief executive Richard Howson said bidding for the scheme was one of his biggest regrets.
However, Transport Scotland announced last week that it would actually be autumn when the scheme would open following “urgent discussions” with Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try.
But it’s not only financial concerns that have plagued this scheme; its health and safety record has also come under the spotlight.
A freedom of information request submitted to Transport Scotland revealed earlier this month that 158 workers had been injured in accidents or incidents on site from January 2015 to February 2018.
There were also 130 near misses recorded over that period.
Furthermore, the JV has launched an investigation into claims that staff on the project were charged up to £100 a week by ’umbrella companies’ providing payroll services for the project.
No doubt this road will play an important role in connecting north-east Scotland once it is finally completed, and its delivery will ultimately benefit the region.
But at what cost?