A display of plans for the long-awaited A90 Laurencekirk flyover has been overtaken by a row over the project’s start date and potential disruption to drivers and the community.
Locals had their first real chance to see the design of the “full diamond” grade-separated junction, which will take the realigned A937 over the dual carriageway.
It follows a campaign for improvements at the accident blackspot, which has gone on for several years.
The works also include shared routes suitable for pedestrians and cyclists, from Laurencekirk over the A90 on the A937, as well as parallel to the A90 southbound side to the B9120.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “We were able to publish draft orders for the scheme last month – a major milestone in delivering this much-needed upgrade for the north east.
“The new grade separated junction will improve safety and help reduce delays for all who cross or turn at the busy A90 junction to the south of the town.”
Conservative politicians have joined campaigners in pressing ministers for a start date to the project, which they say will lead to major disruption for motorists over more than a year.
Project consultants Amey have set a 2022 date for completion.
However, in a response to a query from Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Liam Kerr and MP Andrew Bowie, ministers have admitted they have no idea when work will start on the project, with no timetable in place.
Mr Kerr said: “It’s taken successive SNP ministers 15 years to get to this point and yet they have admitted they have no idea when work will start or finish.”
Mr Bowie said: “It’s clear traffic will considerably increase for residents in areas such as Laurencekirk and the Scottish Government simply don’t care.
“Residents need to know the full extent of the disruption caused by the work and I will continue to press ministers until I get proper answers.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “There is a statutory process in place that we are obliged to follow and as part of this we published draft orders for the scheme last month.
“The next stage will depend on the public’s reaction to our plans and whether there is any requirement for a local public local inquiry.
“Delivery of the scheme itself can only commence when the scheme is approved under the statutory procedures. Thereafter a timetable for construction can be determined. We will continue to push forward the preparation stages to deliver this scheme as soon as possible.
“Once complete, the new junction will bring improved road safety and economic benefits to road users and the local community in Laurencekirk and across the north east.”
A spokesperson for Michael Matheson said: “As anyone with the most basic of understanding knows, certain stages and hurdles need to be passed before delivering a major project, and only today public discussions were held in Laurencekirk to gain vital feedback on the junction improvement.
“Again, as most people appreciate, delivery of the scheme itself can only commence when the scheme is approved under the statutory procedures, thereafter a timetable for construction can be determined. We will continue to push forward the preparation stages to deliver this scheme as soon as possible.”