Council chiefs are launching a land grab bid to pave the way for a congestion-busting new bridge over the River Tay.
The long-awaited Cross Tay Link Road project is expected to create thousands of jobs by unlocking development land on the edge of Perth, as well as relieving mounting traffic problems at hotspots such as Bridgend and Atholl Street, one of the country’s most polluted areas.
The new route – part of the Perth Transport Futures scheme – is expected to deliver a near £500 million boost to the local economy.
Now Perth and Kinross Council has struck a £3.3 million deal with a leading consultancy firm to set the ball rolling on an extensive land buy-up exercise.
Questionnaires have gone out to properties along the earmarked route to gather data about which sites are available, and which ones may need to be secured using compulsory purchase powers.
Swedish firm Sweco, which consults on thousands of construction projects across 70 countries, has been brought in to assist council officers on land acquisition, as well as other preparatory work.
A council spokeswoman confirmed that the £3.3 million contract had been factored into the £113 million overall cost.
The local authority already has two-thirds of funding in place, while the remaining £35 million will be subject to the Tay Cities Deal.
The spokeswoman said: “The contract is for the provision of design consultancy support to the roads infrastructure team within the council to take phase two of the Perth Transport Futures Project (i.e. the Cross Tay Link Road) through to construction.
“The scope of the work includes various site investigations, assistance with the land purchase process, the specimen design, preparation of the environmental assessments and appraisals, preparation of the planning application, engagement and management of utility diversions, preparation of contract documents, support during the procurement process and site supervision of the main contract, as well as any advance works which may be undertaken.”
A council report by depute chief executive Jim Valetine describes Perth as a “major strategic hub” in Scotland’s roads network, but adds the danger of traffic grinding to a standstill is hampering economic progress.
“Over the past 20 years, as a result of increasing levels of traffic and new local development, there has been increasing concern about the noticeable increase in traffic congestion and related air quality issues in and around Perth,” he said.
“As a result of these traffic and air quality issues, it was clear that there were both current current – and potentially exacerbated future – problems which needed to be addressed.”
Mr Valentine added: “Failure to examine this congestion will continue to undermine the air quality problem and the increased congestion and delays will further constrain the day to day operations of the city centre.”
The council estimates for every £1 invested in the link road, £4.30 of revenue will be generation. Construction could begin as early as 2019 and, if all goes to plan, the new road will be open by 2022.