A ‘fete-style’ community weekened featuring a ‘celebration of travel through the ages with vintage vehicles and future electric vehicle technology’ will herald the opening of a new 36-mile road in Aberdeen.
The new £745m AWPR – set to open later this year – is being hailed by North East civic leaders as a “symbol of rebirth” for the city and a massive boost to inbound leisure and business tourism.
One of the largest road construction projects in Europe, the AWPR (Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route) will make it easier for tourists to make their way to and from the city centre and airport.
With the new Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre (AECC) opening adjacent to the airport next year, the new artery is timed to boost the city’s attempts to woo international major events to the city.
Business leaders and local hotels have today added their backing to the GoNorthEast campaign, which is paving the way for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie to Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) road opening later this year.
The Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), an independent economic development network, and Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association, which represents local hotels, hailed the AWPR/B-T as a strong statement to the world that the North-east is thriving and seeking continued global investment.
Ian Armstrong, regional director of SCDI, said businesses would benefit hugely once the new road fully opens this autumn, while Dr Andrew Martin, vice-chair of Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association, believes the project is a major step change for access to the North-east.
“Journey reliability time, access to markets and better connectivity in and around the city from north to south and across the region will be hugely beneficial to the business community,” said Mr Armstrong. “The message that the AWPR opening is going to send to the rest of Scotland, the UK and beyond, is very positive for the region.”
Mr Armstrong said the AWPR/B-T is much more than ‘just a road’. “I think it’s a symbol of the renaissance, some kind of rebirth of the region and the fact there is still confidence among businesses and the Government that they want to invest in the north-east – combined with the new expansion of Aberdeen Harbour, Peterhead Port’s £50 million investment in their fish processing and harbour deepening, the airport expansion and the new exhibition centre,” he added.
“The AWPR opens up the labour market, thanks to improved connectivity and making working in the city an even more attractive option. It also expands the catchment area for Aberdeen International Airport, while offering the potential for more direct flights from Aberdeen to international locations.”
Dr Martin said the new road will have a hugely positive impact on inbound tourism, with greater connectivity making it much easier for visitors to get here, echoing comments made by VisitAberdeenshire and Aberdeen International Airport.
“The AWPR is going to have a very positive impact to hotels in the region. Any 21st-century tourism destination needs great connectivity and we also need to support the new routes coming into Aberdeen International Airport – which is what we are getting with this road.
“It’s important for business tourism, leisure tourism, day visitors and the host community. Visitors and tourists who want to spend money on hotels need to get to where they want to be quickly and easily, and that delivers for us,” he said.
“It’s great to see the new exhibition centre being built, we’ve got new routes coming into the airport and we’re going to have cruise tourism very soon. These three key markets need great connectivity and that’s what this road delivers.
Dr Martin described the AWPR/B-T as a step change for the region, with other parts of Europe experiencing economic benefits as a result of improved infrastructure.
“Businesses are looking forward to more business coming to Aberdeen. Hopefully we will be drawing more business from the south as our tourist attractions, our hotels and our businesses become more accessible – and they are great quality, so people are going to come.
“For me, it is more than a road project – it’s a statement,” he added. “It’s about being serious about attracting inward investment and making it easy for tourists to get here. When you look at the massive investment we’ve seen in this infrastructure, that sends a very strong message.”
The AWPR/B-T spans 36 miles (58km), with 25 miles (40km) of new side roads, 19 miles (30km) of access track, 12 junctions, two river crossings over the Dee and the Don and a bridge for the Aberdeen to Inverness railway.
A Community Weekend (8th and 9th of September 2018) has been announced to celebrate the opening of the eagerly anticipated and is planned to take place on the new AWPR in the River Dee valley on the boundary between Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. It will be a ‘fete-style’ event with attractions including a celebration of travel through the ages with vintage vehicles and future electric vehicle technology. There will also be unique opportunities for cyclists of a wide range of abilities to experience the road before strategic traffic begins using it in earnest and cyclists get to enjoy the benefits of less congested city roads.
This is supported by the ‘GoNorthEast’ campaign, which will underline the benefits of this transformational project and show how these will positively impact on people’s lives and the future of businesses, small and large across the North-east.