Pedestrians battle for breath as snowy powder coats area

White dust in Saughton Road North. Picture: Scott Louden

White dust in Saughton Road North. Picture: Scott Louden

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RESIDENTS are fuming after a treatment aimed at making city roads more skid resistant resulted in homes and cars being covered in dust and left pedestrians struggling to breathe.

Carrick Knowe locals said they were stunned to wake up and find a fine, snow-like substance covering road surfaces in the area.

It coated hedges and window ledges, and has sparked concern over the looseness of the road surface.

Vehicles in Saughton Road North, Ravelston Dykes and Davidson’s Mains were also affected after dust was sprayed over the roadside as part of a process called “surface dressing”.

It involves treating the road with bitumen before covering 
it with stone chippings and allowing traffic to flatten it down by driving on it at low speeds.

But residents have told of their anger and shock, with a lollipop man outside Carrick Knowe Primary forced to wear a dust mask after struggling with his breathing on the street.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said she was stunned when she opened the curtains on Friday morning.

“I couldn’t believe it when I looked out and saw the mess,” she said. “The entire street was covered in this dust. The place looked like a desert and all the cars that went past were coated in it.

“I had a walk down the street to the shop earlier and all the cars on the road were kicking up the dust on to the pavement.

“A couple of people walking the other way had their hoods pulled right up over their faces and were covering their eyes with their sleeves to stop the dust getting in.”

Another described it as “a joke” and said surface dressing was a “cheap and nasty” way of fixing the road surface.

Emma Challoner, who works in Time Hairdressing in Saughton Road North, said the salon had issues with the debris being blown into the premises.

“It looks absolutely disgusting,” she said. “Every time a bus goes past it blows a whole load of the dust into the salon. We were actually glad it started raining because it’s started to take in the water so it doesn’t blow about as much.”

It is believed the debris was created by Balfour Beatty staff who are working on behalf of the council.

City bosses today reassured residents that the company had been contacted about the issue.

“Preventative treatment which reduces the damaging effects of water and increases skid resistance to the road surface is being carried out on Saughton Road North,” a spokesman said.

“This has resulted in some dust being released into the atmosphere, which has been exacerbated by passing traffic and the lack of rain recently.

“We have now asked the contractor to dampen down the road surface to reduce the impact of dust.”

Drivers have been warned to take extra care on the roads, with signs aimed at warning motorists in the area that the surface is slippy. Speed limits of 20mph are also in force.

A spokesman for Balfour Beatty said the firm was cooperating with the city council to address the problem. Company chiefs expect to start remedial work on the site to lessen the effect of the debris in due course.