SEVEN months of work was starting on Leith Walk today in the latest stage of the street’s multi-million pound revamp.
Pavement widening, road resurfacing, new pedestrian crossings, relocation of waste bins and removal of “clutter” are all part of the programme over the next 30 weeks between Pilrig Street and Duke Street.
Lane closures and traffic lights will be needed at times but council chiefs insist the traffic will be kept flowing.
The work is also being “tram-proofed” to avoid unnecessary disruption in the future if plans to extend the tram route get the go-ahead.
Some traders whose shops suffered during the previous tram preparation works are wary of the latest plans, but business leaders hope the measures will boost the area.
Alex Wilson, chair of the Leith Business Association, said: “Our association came into existence because of the previous botched-up effort and there are some people who just don’t want to hear about any more works.
“It’s difficult to persuade them it’s going to make things better – they say they have heard it all before, but we think it’ll be worth it.
“The widening of the pavements and the boulevard feel it will give will radically alter the feel of the place.
“And there’s a strong chance it could prove a model street for other parts of the city because we’re trying to make it cycle and pedestrian friendly while recognising it is a major traffic artery.
“When they start the work they will probably find all sorts of horrors left from the last time, which might impact on the overall timetable.
“But the contractors are under instruction to minimise the effect on businesses and residents.
“It’s like going to the dentist – sore at the time, but worth it in the end.”
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said the work would revitalise the area and make an important transport corridor work for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and drivers.
She said: “We’re very pleased to be able to press ahead with the next stage of the Leith Programme, which I know many residents and businesses have been eagerly anticipating since the completion of the first phase at Constitution Street.
“The work has been carefully planned in order to minimise disruption and the officers overseeing the project will be monitoring progress closely and be on hand to offer any support and assistance required by those affected.”
The work is due to be completed in mid-December.