Praise for communities affected by AWPR
Communities affected by construction of the transformational Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie to Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) project have been praised for their patience and understanding.
This weekend’s GoNorthEast Road Festival has been organised as a way of thanking communities. It offers a range of exhibitions and entertainment within a festival style village on a section of the new road. In addition to the festival attractions, people of all ages and abilities have the chance to cycle and walk along a picturesque part of the new road in the Dee Valley, including crossing a new bridge over the River Dee.
During a visit to the GoNorthEast Road Festival today, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said:
“Building a project of this ambition, scale and complexity undoubtedly results in disruption and inconvenience for some communities. It has been a challenging time for those directly impacted on by the years of building this impressive project, however the end is now in sight and people are starting to see and experience the real benefits.
“It’s been a long time coming for many people and businesses in the north east of Scotland and it is fantastic to be here today to see the scale of this development. I am pleased tomorrow’s cycling event has been so popular, which reflects the level of interest in this project.
“I’m impressed by the Borrow a Bike feature, which allows families to enjoy this unique opportunity together and also demonstrates to people who haven’t been on a bicycle for years or people who feel cycling is inaccessible to them for whatever reason that this does not have to be the case.
“I also especially enjoyed the display of electric vehicles. In a week where we have announced an additional £17 million for new electric charge points and an extra 100 green buses, as well as reiterating our commitment to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel vehicles in our Programme for Government, this is a crucial aspect of our transport commitments.”
Highlights of the community festival include:
- Transport through the ages - 120 vintage and modern vehicles on display curated by local event partners Grampian Transport Museum, including the latest in electric vehicles
- Interactive displays on new technology and engineering from Shell’s Eco Marathon teams and the Greenpower Formula 24 initiative with others to be confirmed
- A car simulator, toy car arena and lots of fun activities for children including face painting and murals created by toy cars
- International street performers
- Borrow a Bike will see a stock of up to 200 bicycles, including electric bikes, offered to people of all ages and abilities to borrow and travel along a closed 4 km loop on the road - promoting the benefits of active travel for all
- A Country Walk allowing people to explore a 1.8 km route to enjoy the picturesque Dee Valley
- The GNE Cycle Experience offering a further opportunity for up to 1,500 cyclists to cycle an 18 km closed-road loop on the new AWPR tomorrow (Sunday)
Mr Matheson also looked ahead to the next phase of the project completion, he said:
“We are looking forward to the next key section of this project opening to traffic in the coming weeks. This project is a genuine game-changer and will revolutionise transport in and around Aberdeen. We are approaching the home straight in terms of completion and this next phase will provide a key step towards improved journey times, reliability, access to markets and improved connectivity across the region and beyond.
“As others have rightly said, this project is so much more than a road, it is a statement of intent and a golden opportunity to relaunch the north east of Scotland. I firmly believe it can be a catalyst for positive change for the economy, tourism, the environment and regeneration.”
Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Communities all over Aberdeen and wider afield have been very patient during the construction of the new road and we hope many of them are enjoying the community weekend.
“We are proud of our £75million investment into the AWPR as transforming infrastructure is an important part of our plans for Aberdeen, bringing substantial social and economic benefits to the city and further afield.
“We are looking forward to the entire AWPR being finished soon with residents, visitors, and businesses enjoying the positives the new road will bring.”
Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Cllr Jim Gifford said:
“The AWPR/B-T project has been one of the most eagerly anticipated infrastructure developments in the north-east of Scotland and it is great to be so close to seeing the route finally opened.
“We’ve seen some excellent partnership working, not just in terms of the construction of the route, but also in the opportunities that have arisen to involve schools and engage with the community.
“This festival has been designed to recognise all of that and I hope everybody enjoys the weekend and all the activities that are on offer.”
Neil Skene is fundraising co-ordinator at independent charity North East Sensory Services (NESS), the first integrated joint sensory service in Scotland which provides both practical and emotional support to anyone effected by a sight or hearing loss.
Neil, who has been blind since he was a teenager, said:
“The GoNorthEast Road Festival is a fantastic celebration of the long-awaited AWPR and I'm particularly excited by the Borrow a Bike initiative, which gives people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to have a go at cycling on the new road. Some of our service users regularly enjoy cycling on a tandem so it's great to see tandems included in the festival so that visitors with a visual impairment can take part."