Oct 312012

In reply to Barry Black’s article re the AWPR in Aberdeen Voice, Jonathan Russell raises the following concerns:

Traffic Congestion. Picture Credit: Ian Britton.  http://www.freefoto.com/preview/41-17-Debate about the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route came to centre on legal issues. Consequently, proper debate about our transport and related needs has diminished. Here are ten reasons we should not be spending increasingly scarce resources on such a highly expensive venture and, if we do, what needs to be taken into account.

• The generally held position is that the AWPR will solve congestion, yet all known evidence shows increased road space increases congestion. The route may well help in reducing traffic black spots but is also likely to create new ones. Congestion in the city centre is certain to increase. It will encourage people to continue using cars rather than turning, as they are starting to now, to more environmentally effective means like car-sharing, flexi-working, home working, park and ride and cycling.

• There has been a dramatic change in demographics with young families moving to new housing in Aberdeenshire. This would have left the city with an increasingly ageing population had it not been for the influx of largely Eastern European people. What this change does mean, however, is longer journeys when families visit each other and more people travelling into Aberdeen for work and social reasons. The AWPR would escalate this process.

• The potential for new retail parks linked to the road will lead to the demise of more shops in the city centre, leaving Union and George Street looking ever more forlorn. More car journeys to new retail developments will further increase congestion.

• The cost of the AWPR is sure to escalate and at a time of severe public cuts, this will take up precious resources and further affect services to the community, in particular to the more vulnerable.

• If we are to pay for the road without dramatically affecting other services then highly unpopular mechanisms such as road pricing will have to be introduced.

• The Scottish Government has set high targets to meet the challenge of climate change. The AWPR will not help achieve those.

• The road will eat into outlying countryside to the detriment of the environment.

• People heading south are more likely to use cars than trains or buses.

• Resources will be spent on a road when petrol prices are certain to rise in the long term due to the escalating costs of obtaining oil. We should instead be increasing our rail freight capacity and need to find new ways of transporting goods by rail and by sea. We should also be creating more safe cycle links, increasing railway stations and links, subsidising bus fares to encourage more bus use.

• Escalating NHS costs mean we should encourage people to travel by healthier transport than cars e.g. Finland has had great success in this area leading to significantly improved health indicators.

We need desperately to do something about the Haudagain roundabout, but this does not require the Western Peripheral to be built and should be done in a way that when possible encourages people out of of their cars into park and ride and cycling.

Many people genuinely think the Western Peripheral is essential to the North East’s future. Much more thought needs to be given into how it is going to develop and operate  and whether it is indeed our best and only option.

Picture Credit: Ian Britton.
Image  licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License, FreeFoto FREE USE license.

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  4 Responses to “Western Peripheral Route Not The Solution”

  1. I’m inclined to agree with all said above. While the AWPR will act as a by-pass to the city, it will do little to relieve city centre conjestion brought about by the daily commute. Aberdeen Crossrail has been spoken about for over 30 years, the end result being one additional station. Similarly, widening or the provision of a second bridge at The Bridge of Dee has been spoken of for decades. The end result? Nothing! The world famous Haudigan round-a-bout should have been upgraded many years ago. When this work finally commences, mayhem will ensue, AWPR or no AWPR.

    Public transport has a great part to play in resolving our congestion issues. The privatisation of same has made this much more difficult however with escalating fares and service reductions/withdrawals. Aberdeen is the only major city that does not have a supported park and ride system for example. Again, because of fare rises, the limited park and ride that we do have is poorly patronised. Private operators have to make a profit to satisfy their shareholders and investors and are unlikely to improve services unless some form of subsidy is forthcoming.

    • This is exactly what we have been saying for years, not only that Governments for decades do not seem to comprehend that our unspoiled countryside is a precious resource that once gone is lost for ever, and with concerns over food security we should not be covering our farmland with roads and such like.

  2. Re-open the train line to Peterhead instead, and the Banchory line. Get Kintore station, and another couple between Dyce and the toon opened. Stop building houses in f’n BoD, without creating significantly more jobs in the area. 20 years ago, the AWPR would have been acceptable – it isn’t now.

    You missed a few points:

    1. The AWPR has been designed in such a fashion that it opens up swathes of land for new housing developments, which will be built with no transport links or amenities of note. The people who live there will be forced to use the AWPR, or other routes, significantly increasing the traffic.

    2. People who previously ruled out working in Dyce/BoD and living in the South (and vice versa) will now consider this acceptable, adding more traffic to the road.

    3. We’ll do it wrong. Roundabouts will be used where slip roads should be etc etc. to cut corners. It’ll just move the congestion to a different corner.

    • Excellent points.

      FOR NOW, the AWPR is great for bypassing Aberdeen, but in the long run only serves to cause further ugly & pointless dormitory developments that don’t help Aberdeen, and certainly won’t bring back the steadily withering-away prosperity & jobs.

      Best case scenario is the bypass is great for the relative few folk up north to avoid Aberdeen altogether. Aberdeen traffic still bad, Aberdeen’s prosperity still declining.

      Worst case scenario, despite lack of demand, tons of new developments spring up along the bypass route. The bypass just becomes another point of traffic congestion, commuters into Aberdeen find it even harder, people can’t find jobs or amenities because nobody bothered to make sensible plans to improve Aberdeen’s lot.

      A second Dee crossing near the Bridge of Dee is sensible. Fixing the Haudigan is sensible. Improving public transport for Aberdeen is sensible. Making honest efforts to reinvigorate the city centre is sensible. Fixing the major issue which is traffic INTO AND OUT OF Aberdeen is sensible.

      It had decades of oil prosperity and if the council had bothered, could have bent some of that money being made off of Aberdeen’s back to it;s own benefit. Instead all it got was decades of lazy dormitory estates & lazy commercial & industrial estates that were always intended to be abandoned once the oil ran dry.

      But hey, for now, it knocks off a few minutes getting from north of Aberdeen round to south of it, so there’s that. Really late & well over budget, but a time saving for some folk all the same.

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