Exclusive: Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn has confirmed the company is carrying out remedial works worth millions on the Don River Bridge as part of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
In a presentation of Balfour Beatty’s half-year results on Wednesday morning, Mr Quinn said an investigation into part of the bridge’s design was under way.
The bridge is the last major structure to be completed on the 53 km AWPR bypass, which has been hit by several delays and seen costs hit £745m.
Mr Quinn said: “It’s a question of the alignment of the ducts and the stressing, so that when it’s put under pressure, effectively the duct alignment and the stress put onto the concrete – that we haven’t overstressed it. So that’s what’s under investigation at this time.”
A cable will run through ducts to allow post-tensioning of the bridge.
Speaking to Construction News after the presentation, Mr Quinn revealed that remedial works were also being carried out.
“We’re looking at: have we got the right detail around that [the ducts], and we’re doing some remedial repairs so hopefully that will all be out of the way and stressed up and in operation in the autumn,” he said.
He added: “The repairs are in the single-digit millions – and quite low at that.”
Transport Scotland confirmed that some concrete panels were being replaced on the bridge after a “minor defect” was found during quality control checks.
MSP for north-east Scotland Lewis Macdonald told Construction News that any safety concerns needed to addressed “as quickly as possible” and called on more clarity from the Scottish Government over the much-delayed bypass.
“We’ve seen a number of important issues emerge reluctantly from the shadows and this is just one more,” he said.
“Now Balfour Beatty, as one of the two main partners are addressing the issue, we would expect the Scottish Government to say what their assessment is – [whether] this has implications for road safety or the timetable for completion or indeed for public finances.”
A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “The contractor will undertake the necessary remedial works, at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
“There will be no safety implications for users of the AWPR.”
Balfour Beatty revealed earlier this week that it lost £23m on the AWPR in the first six months of 2018, as the completion date slipped from this summer to the autumn, although some sections of the road are now open to traffic.
Transport Scotland said the overall scheme was on track to be fully open by late autumn.
The £745m project has been hit by a number of problems, with Mr Quinn citing issues with “utilities, the worst winter on record, a resequencing of the programme” for causing delays.
An investigation by CN also uncovered allegations of serious health and safety issues on the project.
Balfour Beatty is working with joint venture partner Galliford Try to complete the bypass around Aberdeen.
The two firms have seen their liabilities on the scheme increase following the collapse of the third JV partner Carillion in January.
Balfour Beatty said that, of the £23m AWPR loss for the first half of 2018, £8m was as a direct result of taking on Carillion’s liabilities on the job.
The company has started demobilising on the project and Mr Quinn added that “it will be behind us before the end of the year”.
He called the AWPR “probably the largest infrastructure project in Europe” and said the lessons learned on it would benefit future major infrastructure projects like HS2.
“We should be proud of what we achieved, we just wish it hadn’t cost so much money,” Mr Quinn said.