Feb 202015

With thanks to Ann-Marie Parry, Parliamentary Assistant, Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP

Christian Allard MSP at Holyrood2

Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond  and North East MSP Christian Allard have welcomed the start of construction work on the £745 million Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie-Tipperty road project today.
Construction will support around 1,500 jobs and over 100 apprenticeships, graduate places, and other training opportunities.

The scheme will be delivered in stages, with completion expected in winter 2017, around six months ahead of schedule.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the beginning of the work at Balmedie, one of the key communities to benefit from the AWPR, today.

Alex Salmond said:

“This is a brilliant day for residents all across the north-east of Scotland who will benefit from increased connectivity and shorter journey times.

“The construction of the AWPR is expected to create 1,500 jobs at its peak as well as 100 apprenticeships, graduate places and other training which means that young people will get valuable opportunities to enter the workplace.

“The AWPR will deliver much needed relief from the congestion in and around Aberdeen and I am delighted that sections of the road, such as the junctions around the Airport, will be finished as early as next year.

“With an estimated £6 billion of investment and 14,000 jobs expected to be created in the north-east over the next thirty years, it is clear that the AWPR will help to boost business and keep Aberdeen internationally competitive.”

Christian Allard (pictured) said:

“I am delighted that construction work on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route is now underway as this will have a huge impact on the road network in the north-east of Scotland.

“Not only will journey times greatly improve but construction will bring thousands of jobs to the region.

“With this £745 million development underway and expected to be complete 6 months ahead of schedule this Scottish Government is clearly committed to delivering for the north-east.”

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

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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Jul 062012

By David Innes. 

“You’re a boy fa kens fit’s goin on, usually,” said The Mannie Fae Along The Road to me this morning, as his crouching Jack Russell grimaced, strained and squeezed alarmingly on the other end of the lead he was holding,
“Fit’s the story wi the signs up aboot roadworks on Ellon Road for the next fortnicht?”

I’d noticed that myself. As a Bridge of Don resident anxious to avoid the road works on neighbouring stretches of Ellon Road during the past two summers, I bit the bullet and just left earlier. By bike.

It’s only eight miles across the city, and the Nigg Brae isn’t really all that steep. No, really, it isn’t. Aye, right.

The road works themselves are necessary, given that Ellon Road looks like Berlin’s Unter den Linden must have done in late April 1945, although the Soviet tank drivers were apparently a tad more polite and less-susceptible to Wut der Straße , aka road rage, than the 4×4 jockeys of the A956.

This necessary carriageway closure has not in the past, however, stopped the Gypit Tendency, vox-popped in the local press, from complaining about delays to fix the roads they girn about during the rest of the year.

Michty, they only had two weeks’ warning of the works planned via the foot-high electrical digital display boards mounted along the route in 2010 and 2011, and the illuminated message about this year’s scarifying and tarring has already been spearing through the fog for days on end.

The Mannie Fae Along The Road listened attentively as I explained David’s Bridge of Don Traffic Theorem Number Five.

“When the A956 is shut as it was at this very time last year, and the year before, or narrowed as it is likely to be next week, then Brer Commuter, in general, pays little heed to the forewarnings and expects that s/he can leave Bridge of Don, The Great Dunes of Scotland area, Ellon and all points north and west, and still travel to their city destination in the same time. 

“On encountering the inevitable snarl-ups, they bear this for the first journey, raging silently and furiously at the inconvenience. By home time, they are rat-running, using a route they assume will not have been sussed out by others. On encountering the inevitable snarl-ups, they are to be witnessed raging silently and furiously at the inconvenience. I could do this as a flowchart, you know.”

The Mannie Fae Along The Road’s brow knitted, purled and then unknitted slightly.

“Will that cause a redd-up on Jesmond Drive then?” he checked, “It did the last time.”

“I can’t say for certain,” I offered, “but I can’t see that the closure of Ellon Road, the resulting delays and frustration and the redd-up, as you put it, are unconnected”.

“The seener they build that Third Brig ower the Don the better then,” he ventured.

He sensed my disapproval.

“Pffffft” and “Tssssscccchhhh” are the best phonetic transcriptions I can offer of the non-language sounds I emitted, stopping just short of uttering expletives.

“No?” he timidly queried.

“Well, if you think about it, the Third Crossing will be designed to take the weight off The Parkway, the Haudagain roundabout and Ellon Road, but to get to it, vehicles will need to get to The Parkway. How might they do that?”

He ruminated, almost audibly as pennies dropped. I counted 1s. 8d. at least.

Well, aff Ellon Road at the Exhibition Centre roundabout for the traffic comin in fae Peterheid direction, I suppose?”

“So, knowing that they can get to a new Don Crossing from The Parkway, are they all going to queue patiently to turn right at the AECC? Might not some of them, or rather a lot of them, decide that the shortcut from Murcar via Scotstown Road, perhaps via Greenbrae and Dubford, might be an option to save queuing and time?”

“Aye, I suppose there is that til’t”.

“And of course, they’ll all head straight along Scotstown Road to The Parkway and turn right, won’t they?”

“Awa min, of course they winna, they’ll…..





The noise coming from the Penny Falls in his head sounded like someone had turned three melons on the Mains of Scotstown one-armed bandit.

“I never thocht o’t like that”.

“Your grandchildren, two of them are at Middleton Park Primary, aren’t they?” I enquired.

“Aye, deein weel, but there’ll be an affa steer o traffic roon aboot their yokin time”.

“And outside Greenbrae School and Glashieburn. Try getting out of Asda when the traffic is incessant from your left. Watch the residents of the sheltered housing opposite Asda trying to cross the road. Calculate how late the number 2 and 5 buses will be, caught up in it.

“Then the whole farrago’s played out again from four o’clock onwards, but in the opposite direction. Anyone heading along Jesmond Drive from the Ashwood direction is going to be queuing to turn right into Whitestripes Avenue to get to The Parkway as traffic heads towards them.

“Imagine trying to edge your car out of Newburgh Drive or Jesmond Avenue between 7.30 and 9.00, and between 4.00 and 6.30?”

“It’ll be a bit o a steer, by the soonds o it…”

“What else seems to be unknown by drivers from this side of town who just want to get across the river, is that they’ll just be queuing in a different place. The plans for the crossing say that Bedford Road will be closed, and only buses and smartarse cyclists like me will be able to use it.

“St. Machar Drive will be a T-junction at Tillydrone Avenue. With traffic lights! Anybody trying to avoid traffic in King Street or Great Northern Road by crossing into Tillydrone is going to come up against the same congestion, maybe even worse, on St. Machar Drive.

“Then there are the U-turns at King Street / St. Machar Drive, since nobody’s going to be allowed to make a right turn into the university from St. Machar Drive. And there’s the cost of changing the roundabout at the top of St. Machar Drive to deal with the increase in traffic coming up the Drive.”

“Maybe nae sic a good idea efter a’ then?”

“Not thought through, but it’ll give us something else to moan about if it ever gets built”.


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Aug 042011

By Bob Smith.

There’s ti be a public inquiry
Aboot a new brig ower the Don
Fit raised a puckle objections
Fae the residents o Tillydrone

Noo its thocht that maybe CPOs
Micht be used ti pinch fowk’s lans
A fair fyow bits o gairdens
Wid be teen oot o their hauns

As weel as kickin up a stink
Aboot the use o thae CPOs
Fowk in Tillydrone an Widdside
Are feart faar the traffic flows

Cars an larries fae aff the brig
Wull roar bye hoose front doors
Nae a thocht  fer folkies wellbein
As the car coont it fair soars

Eence they bigg mair hooses
Oot ower the Brig o Don wye
A fowerth brig crossin the river
Wull nae doot bi the cry

Noo here’s a thocht ma freens
An iss we jist maan speir
If aa iss happened  near Rubislaw Den
Wid plans git oot o first gear?

Support the fowk fae Tillydrone
Tell the planners ti back aff
Eence mair some in iss toon
Are threatened wi plans richt naff

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011


Jun 242011

“Which of our conflicting transport demands are most important?” asks Jonathan Hamilton Russell in this edit of his longer article, written to encourage debate on the future of personal and freight travel in NE Scotland.

Scotland has extremely ambitious climate change targets, yet we prioritise airport expansion and roadbuilding.

The NE economy needs transport infrastructure to allow movement of goods; people have to get to work with few holdups.

Meeting climate change targets means embracing sustainable transport usage by reducing car, road freight and air travel yet Aberdeen Airport has the fastest-growing passenger numbers in Scotland; public transport is the only option for many, but the majority are wedded to car use. Among Scottish cities Aberdeen car count is highest; Aberdeenshire has the highest rural area car usage; increasingly, Aberdeenshire residents drive to work in Aberdeen, exaggerating traffic bottlenecks.

Public spending cuts mean local and national governments face stark financial choices affecting resources for maintaining and enhancing transport infrastructures.

The days of cheap petrol have passed. Prices will continue to rise.

Bus fares are higher here than throughout Scotland.  Southbound buses are often of poor quality although local buses are of a high standard, and Aberdeen citizens, on average, are nearer bus stops than other Scottish cities’ residents.

Bus use in Aberdeenshire can be problematic, but could be increased by driving to stops and transferring to buses – less stressful than car travel. Council cuts to services for the disabled and elderly have made travelling significantly more challenging for such socially-excluded groups.

What can we do?

There’s general agreement that people should be encouraged to travel more sustainably. Cycling activity is increasing, although levels are lower than elsewhere in Scotland, and it needs to be encouraged as a healthy, environmentally-friendly activity.

Cycle pools, common in many European cities, could be created. Cycle routes to school, given priority, would provide more fun and health benefits for children than car travel. Cycle safety measures would need to be put in place, particularly at roundabouts, to make them less dangerous.

Park and ride schemes, particularly at Kingswells, are less successful than envisaged but remain a commuting option. Car-sharing, whilst becoming more common, is far from the norm. NESTRANS, responsible for planning and transport implementation, has suggested piloting car-share lanes.

Laurencekirk railway station has re-opened, but more stops are needed, possibly at Kittybrewster and Altens. The Haudagain roundabout obviously needs improving, with priority for cyclists, buses and car-sharing.

A new Bridge of Dee is needed – contribution to its cost from that area’s large retailers might have been written into the conditions when planning consent was agreed. Any new development should prioritise cycles, buses and car-sharing.

Aberdeen is a fairly small city and walking should always be marketed as a healthy, cheap and quick transport option.

Traffic lights in pedestrian high-use areas should give priority to pedestrians. 20 mph restrictions have improved safety, although limits are regularly broken by a minority of drivers.

Offering flexible working hours is effective in reducing peak-time traffic levels. Salary benefits for those cycling or car-sharing could be introduced, with car pools for staff who have to drive during  work time. Working at home, for at least part of the week, is an option as is business conferencing rather than travelling to meetings. Both would reduce business costs.

it is well-documented that increased road space leads to increased traffic

Will the increased price of petrol reduce car use enough, or do we need to introduce road pricing, viewed as the single measure most likely to effect change to how we travel? The increased motoring costs would make drivers consider alternatives.

Aberdeen would almost certainly benefit, reducing the numbers moving to Aberdeenshire as extra travel costs outweigh housing cost savings.  It is a hot potato, however, and would be unpopular due to the high levels of car use locally. Few politicians would have the courage to suggest its introduction, despite being effective in reducing car  dependency.

We also need to identify new means of financing transport developments and to maintain the current deteriorating infrastructure. Road pricing could raise those funds.

Some planning decisions have encouraged car use. Union Square adjoins both bus and rail terminals but it has also provided increased parking opportunities.

 It has had a detrimental commercial effect on Union Street, George Street and Bon Accord Centre shops, all more accessible by bus.

The proposed Union Terrace development would increase city centre car parking availability, flying in the face of the need to reduce car travel and move towards more sustainable transport methods.

All measures have advocates and opponents. The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) for example, highlights conflicting views and interests.  Newton Dee Village fought an effective campaign to stop the road encroaching on that community; Road Sense has successfully raised legal objections, forcing public inquiries, even if of limited scope.

The AWPR has both advantages and disadvantages. It would help take freight off Aberdeen’s roads although significant volumes still have to come in and out of Aberdeen.

It would reduce travel times although there are other bottlenecks further south. It would reduce congestion at the Haudagain roundabout and Bridge of Dee, but it is well-documented that increased road space leads to increased traffic. Roads in general will become more congested.

The AWPR would help businesses. It will allow more people to live outside Aberdeen as it will be quicker, at least initially, to travel into Aberdeen but will lead to an increasingly-ageing city population.

Such demographic change will leave Aberdeen City Council with less money and greater demands on resources. An excellent deal has been negotiated in terms of local authorities’ contributions, with the Scottish Government meeting 82% of costs. These, however, have already escalated and impending substantial expenditure cuts will leave less money in the overall pot.

The low level of rail freight uptake is a national scandal. Road freight transport’s perceived flexibility sees it preferred.  Historically, there were conflicts with rail unions, who, however, are now keen for freight to move to rail. This will need increased public and private investment, less likely in a period of reduced public spending, although in terms of providing work and kick-starting the economy this option should not be ruled out. This also applies to the AWPR.

There would need to be contracts developed between the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association, rail companies, unions and government at all levels.

The replacement of the freight terminal by Union Square was a setback for future local rail freight capacity.

New freight facilities have been introduced at Craiginches and at Rathes Farm but this has not increased capacity. There are sea/rail links at Waterloo Quay and freight yards at Inverurie and Huntly. NESTRANS strategy states that development of new open-access freight terminals could be explored and if transferring freight to rail becomes reality, new depots would be needed.

Aberdeen harbour is an excellent freight facility and passenger transport gateway to Orkney and Shetland, with potential to expand both services. Currently five million tonnes of freight are exported through the harbour, but the loss of rail freight infrastructure in the station interchange area was a lost opportunity to link sea freight with rail.

We have to decide on our priorities.

Are we really concerned about climate change?

Can we move towards more community-based forms of travel from those currently privatised?

Do we want a more healthy society that walks and cycles more?

Can our business needs dovetail with our environmental needs?

Is it possible to think more holistically when making planning decisions?

Aberdeen Voice would welcome contributions to this debate.

Image credits:

RAILWAY JUNCTION © Davidmartyn | Dreamstime.com
CAR INTERIOR © Li Fang | Dreamstime.com
BICYCLE PARKING LOT © Chris Mccooey | Dreamstime.com
UTG DENBURN © Mike Shepherd

Nov 122010

A Fairy Story Or Horror Story? ….. By Bob Smith.

Warner Bros. brocht us “Looney Tunes”xx.i sx.xi.x Congestion chargin’ in the centre o toon
Cooncil offices produce some goony loonsxs .x.xi.x Noo  wid iss be seen as a boon?
Aa  iss blether aboot cuts an savinsxxxxxxxxxsxix Will it get fowk oot their cars?
Is the product o some madhoose ravinsxxxxxxxxx Mair chunce o aliens bein on Mars

They micht hae ti close oor parksxxxxxssxxxsxxxx Postponin  buildin’ o the toon’s bypass
Nae mair gairdeners in sweaty sarksxxxxsxxxxixxx Iss micht be seen as a touch o class
The Winter Gairdens will be nae mairxxxxxxxfxixxx Bit spare a thocht for staff at Foresterhill
It’s aneuch ti mak ye pull yer hairxxxxxxfxxxsxxxx Iss idea wid mak a lot o fowk ill

Johnston Gairdens, a maist peacefu’ havenxxxisfxx Mergin’ the offices o City an Shire
Jist ti be seen by dyeuks an odd ravenxxxxxxiixfxx Wid raise some cooncil billies ire
Maybe aa the parks  wid  be infilledxxxxxxxxxixfxxsIt wid o coorse save rinnin’ costs
Will Stewartie Milne then start ti build?xxxixxxxfxxxBit a pucklie fowk wid lose their posts

Aul’ bodies will be  in a tizzyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxiixx Ae benefit o merger we micht  see
In fact they’ll aa be bliddy dizzyxxxxxxxxxiiixxiixxx Fae some looney cooncillors we wid be free
At the thocht o gettin’ less carexxxxxxxxxxxxxixx Bit if jist daft ideas is aa wi’ve got
Faa  ivver thocht iss wid be fairxxxx xxxxxxixxxxx Then the haill damn’t lot hiv lost the plot

Marischal College  nae doot protectedxxxxxxxxxxx ©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2010
A bit o “sellie first” is  bein’ detectedxxxxxxx
Aa aat money for new office gearxxxxxxx
Jist wait till I hae a wee bit sweirxxxxxxx