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Tramworks will close Princes Street for 8 months

posted 28 Jan 2009, 01:03 by myEdinburgh Admin   [ updated 28 Jan 2009, 01:05 ]
Transport leaders in Edinburgh last night unveiled their plans to clear traffic off the city's main thoroughfare to make way for at least eight months of tramworks. Princes Street will become a no-go area from 21 February under plans which are expected to cause major disruption to traffic in the heart of the capital.

Work to move underground pipes and lay the network's first tram tracks will see Princes Street completely closed between South Charlotte Street, in the west end, and South St David Street, in the east end.

Pedestrians will be banned from walking along the south side of Princes Street, next to the gardens, although three access points will be provided, including one to serve the National Gallery of Scotland.

All public transport is to be diverted on to George Street, but motorists will use Queen Street.

Several streets in the New Town are earmarked for to be used for diverted traffic in the event of an accident on either George Street or Queen Street.

Officials masterminding the project insist everything possible has been done to keep disruption to a minimum and that traffic flows will be kept under constant scrutiny to try to ensure problems are dealt with as quickly as possible.

A westbound lane will be kept clear of any roadworks for the first week in case the diversions do not work as planned.

The work is planned to be suspended in August to make way for the city's summer festivals season.

The city council and its tram firm, TIE, have decided to press ahead with a full closure of Princes Street, even though a previous attempt to carry out work on a smaller section of the thoroughfare brought city centre traffic to a halt last October.

The ensuing chaos led to the resignation of Willie Gallagher, the official in charge of the project, while other officials were forced to go back to the drawing board over how to carry out major works on Princes Street.

The first phase of this year's work, which got under way on Saturday morning, has seen access to Princes Street from The Mound and Hanover Street closed and traffic diverted via the likes of Market Street, Waverley Bridge, Queen Street and George Street.

However, both lanes of Princes Street will be kept open to buses, taxis and cycles between now and the full closure on 21 February.

David Mackay, chairman of TIE, said: "We understand that the eyes of the country and beyond will be on us as we construct the infrastructure for Edinburgh's trams.

"We have considered the views and needs of retailers and businesses, and we are confident that this plan is the best solution."

Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's transport leader, added: "I'm confident we can keep the traffic in Edinburgh moving."

By BRIAN FERGUSON


Source: The Scotsman
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