The Scottish transport secretary has held “positive” talks with Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try to resolve contract issues over the delayed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), including the release of further payment.
Michael Matheson said a meeting took place yesterday with Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL), the Balfour Beatty / Galliford Try joint venture delivering the £745m bypass.
Last week the transport secretary revealed that the project would not open this autumn and that no firm date could be given, citing a technical issue on the new River Don bridge.
He also pointed to the opening of a 31.5 km stretch that was outside the original agreement, which required a variation to the contract between Transport Scotland and ARL.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Matheson said: “Today I met with the AWPR contractor to offer any additional support required to get the road open and to understand the timescales for remedial works at the Don Crossing.
“I was also very keen that meaningful steps are taken to agree a contract variation necessary to allow the remainder of the road to open at the earliest opportunity.
“I am well aware this has been a difficult project for the contractors and agreeing this variation would immediately allow the Scottish Government to release appropriate payment to ARL for the work they have completed satisfactorily.”
The minister said discussions were constructive and that further talks with Balfour and Galliford would take place next week.
“The meeting was positive and both parties have agreed to work constructively together to progress the contract variation necessary to open the next section of this project between Craibstone and Stonehaven and Charleston.
“I have scheduled a further discussion with the contractors early next week to ensure that we continue to make the necessary progress. For my part, I have committed to explore every opportunity to make this happen.”
The AWPR scheme has been dogged by delays across 2018.
CN revealed this week that representatives from ARL are expected to be grilled by members of the Scottish parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee over the latest delays to the project.
On Wednesday Galliford Try announced a £20m provision to cover extra costs associated with AWPR delays.
Mr Matheson said he welcomed the statement by Galliford Try, which confirmed that the remedial works on the Don Crossing are on schedule to complete by the end of the year.
“I have been encouraged by Galliford Try’s trading statement this week (7 November). This confirms the Don Crossing is expected to be completed in December.
“I and my officials at Transport Scotland will therefore continue to offer ARL all the support required to conclude remedial work at the Don and open the full project as quickly as possible.
“We continue to thank the people and businesses of the north-east for their patience, especially in the past few weeks. Be in no doubt, I share the frustration they feel.”
Galliford Try has been contacted for comment. Balfour Beatty has been contacted for comment.