Opening of Balmedie to Tipperty stretch of A90 to be delayed
The opening of a section of the Aberdeen city bypass has been delayed.
The Balmedie to Tipperty section of Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route was due to be completed by Spring 2017, but this has now been put back until the end of that year.
The AWPR project as a whole is due to be finished in Spring 2018.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said the government had pursued the project "with vigour", with "significant progress" made to date.
However, opposition parties said the management of the project "must be called into question", accusing the government of "ridiculous incompetence".
The bypass was first given the green light in 2009, but was delayed by legal action which only concluded in the Supreme Court in 2012.
Main project contractor Aberdeen Road Limited began work on the ground in February 2015, and set a target of completing work on the Balmedie to Tipperty road to the north of the city by Spring 2017.
This section, which will see the existing A90 road upgraded to a dual carriageway, will be linked to the northern leg of the AWPR at Blackdog.
Mr Brown said this proposal "was considered challenging but achievable and would obviously have been welcome if realised".
However, in November contractors formally advised Transport Scotland that this target could not be achieved.
The said work on key earthworks, which cannot be undertaken during the winter months due to "certain environmental risks", was not completed in time, which had a knock-on effect on the timetable.
It is now scheduled to be complete in "Winter 2017/18".
In an update to the rural economy committee, Mr Brown said: "The Scottish government has pursued the AWPR project with vigour throughout its development. It was a considerable success to be able to begin the construction phase in 2015 and substantial time and resource has been invested by the Scottish government with significant progress made to date.
"When complete, this project will provide substantial benefits across the whole of the north east, and will boost the economy, increase business and tourism opportunities, improve safety and cut congestion."
Mr Brown also pointed out that a section of the project at Aberdeen Airport had opened in August ahead of schedule.
The Scottish Conservatives said people would be "disappointed" to hear of the "substantial delay to a key section of the route".
Rural economy committee member Peter Chapman said: "The AWPR is a flagship infrastructure project for this SNP government, and I will be asking the minister why this section has fallen so far behind schedule.
"We are fully aware of the benefits that this development will bring to the north east, but the SNP made great play of the fact that this part of the route would open early.
"Now the management of the construction must be called into question."
Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles added: "This is a ridiculous display of incompetence from the Scottish government.
"People in the North East have had to put up with substandard transport infrastructure for a long time. Ministers must get a grip of this now before we see the timetable pushed back even further."