Bus diversions revealed ahead of Leith Street closure

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Major diversions will impact 12 city centre bus routes as a result of the Leith Street closure during works to redevelop the St James Centre in the East End.

The road will be shut to all traffic from September 2 until the summer of 2018, resulting in the redirection of day and nighttime bus services.

A clearly marked diversion route – tested using the council’s virtual traffic modelling system – will aim to keep traffic flowing through a series of one-way links on Easter Road, Regent Road, London Road and Montrose Terrace.

It will be implemented in the few days prior to the closure and will remain in place throughout the planned works.

This closure will also affect NightBus services which will change from 3 September.

The main daytime services affected include the 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 19, 22, 25, 34, 45 and 49, which will follow a different route and stopping pattern. Night buses will be similarly affected.

Buses are still currently using Leith Street despite heavy road works. Picture: Alistair Linford

Buses are still currently using Leith Street despite heavy road works. Picture: Alistair Linford

Leith Street will close to all traffic on 2 September and is expected to be closed until Summer 2018 to allow for the redevelopment of St James Centre.

The main buses affected will be services 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 19, 22, 25, 34, 45 and 49 which will follow a different route and stopping pattern.

Services 15, 26, 35, 44, X15, X26 and X44 will all operate on their normal routes with minor diversions at London Road / Easter Road / Montrose Terrace.

A number of other services will follow their normal route and stopping pattern, but with a minor diversion.

Lothian Buses has urged all customers, especially regular passengers, to find out in advance how this might impact on their journey.

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Sarah Boyd, operations director at Lothian Buses, said: “There is no doubt that this will have a significant impact on our services and customers but we’ve worked extremely hard to minimise this.

“With less than a month to go before the road closes, we strongly encourage customers to plan their journey in advance using our mobile app. Information on all services affected is also available on buses, on our website and through our social media channels.

MOBILE USERS: To see the full map: Click HERE

“We thank our customers for their understanding and patience during the redevelopment of the centre.”

The Lothian app offers journey planning tools and real-time service updates, all integrated with Google Maps. It can be downloaded from tfeapp.com.

Lothian Buses is also introducing changes to some services from Sunday, September 3, incorporating the Leith Street closure along with minor timetables changes, particularly to night services.

The company will provide information on buses, at bus stops and through its social media channels, including updates throughout the construction works.

Leith Street will remain open to pedestrians, cyclists and emergency services throughout the closure, whilst access to Greenside Row and entry to Calton Road from Leith Street for local businesses will also be maintained.

TH Real Estate, developers of the new Edinburgh St James projected for completion in 2020, said the programme of work being undertaken over the next ten months is vital for the regeneration of the east end of Edinburgh and they anticipate the upgrades will dramatically improve the Leith Street corridor ahead of next summer’s festival season.

Commenting on the works programme, Martin Perry, director of development, Edinburgh St James, said: “We fully understand the disruption that is caused by a road closure of this nature, and we would like to thank all those who may be impacted for their patience over this period.

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“Nevertheless, it is clear that this closure provides the most efficient solution, and that in containing these works to a ten-month period, we are preventing prolonged and severely restricted access along Leith Street, whilst significantly reducing disruption in the street in the future.

“This approach will allow us to reconfigure and renew the whole Leith Street corridor, futureproofing the street by creating a high quality and much-improved environment, which will better serve Edinburgh’s pedestrians, public transport and cyclists for years to come.”

Bus Users UK, an organisation which aims to give passengers a voice, campaigns for better services and protects the interests of bus and coach users, said publication of the changes was key to minimising disruption for passengers.

Director for Scotland, Gavin Booth said: “It is inevitable that roadworks of this nature will affect bus services and of course bus passengers.

“Leith Street is an important artery for north-south and east-west bus passengers and it does seem likely that passengers will have to allow more time for their journeys during this period.

“I know that bus companies are working hard to minimise the impact of this closure, which is of course beyond their control, and I am sure this will mean that some bus services will follow unfamiliar routes.

“It is important for bus users that the bus companies involved publicise these changes as soon as possible to give passengers the opportunity to plan their journeys.

“It is also important that parking restrictions are rigorously enforced to allow the buses to get through the city with the minimum delay.

“At the end of the work, we would expect bus services to revert to their current routes.”

During the closure being carried out by Laing O’Rourke, the main contractor for Edinburgh St James, who will also be managing the Leith Street programme, includes:

n The re-profiling and improvement of road levels and surfaces

n Installation of brighter, improved street lighting

n Footpath widening and surface upgrades, providing a better environment for pedestrians

n Improved pedestrian crossings, cycle lanes and bus stops for greater access and safety

n The removal of the Leith Street central reservation

n The removal of the pedestrian overbridge between Q-Park and the former St James Shopping centre

n New deep drainage installation – picking up surface and wastewater requirements from the new Edinburgh St James

Alongside physical improvements to the Leith Street corridor, the developers say the works programme will also support Edinburgh St James’ ongoing contribution to the local jobs market. They state over 5,000 jobs will be created during the development’s construction phase, which includes the Leith Street works programme.

Approved by the City of Edinburgh Council’s Transport and Environment Committee in March of this year, the Leith Street works programme is also supported by the council’s City Wide Traffic Management Group, which includes representatives from the council, local transport providers and emergency services.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk