The problem-riddled project was originally due to open in spring 2017
The Scottish transport secretary has taken a crack at Galliford Try chief executive Peter Truscott as the opening of the problem-plagued Aberdeen bypass has been delayed from autumn until December.
Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson told Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) contractors Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try to “stop deliberating and start acting”.
Matheson said discussions to open a 31.5km section of the road from Craibstone to Stonehaven and Charleston have taken place but that it requires a change to the original contract which the contractors have not agreed to. The contractors’ lenders are also required to sign-off the change.
In a statement to Scottish parliament, he said: “Earlier this week, I spoke with Peter Truscott to receive an update on the progress they were making in discussing this variation with their lenders.
“Despite assurances that they were doing everything possible to open the road at the earliest opportunity, as well as a clear indication from Mr Truscott that they were making the necessary changes to the AWPR contract to open the 31.5km section, I was then disappointed to receive a letter from him which contradicted our discussion.
“It is this kind of inconsistency which is frustrating efforts to progress the opening of this new section. As recently as 12 September, Galliford Try issued a statement to markets to say the AWPR was on target to open in late Autumn 2018 and we had no reason to doubt that assessment.
“I have therefore asked for unequivocal confirmation that the agreement is being progressed and when it will be concluded.”
Matheson also revealed the scheme was facing further delays as the contractors battled to repair a technical issue on the new bridge over the River Don, which was first reported in May.
He said: “The contractor is working hard to repair the defects and earlier this week it reported it was targeting a December opening date.
“However, it is not possible to provide a definitive date as there are a number of factors which could influence it including technical issues and other physical factors such as weather.”
Matheson said while he understood the scheme had been a “challenging project”, highlighting Carillion’s collapse and the “commercial pressures” it had put on the contractors, the focus needed to be on wrapping work up as soon as possible.
The AWPR was originally meant to open in spring 2017.