IT’S more than six months since a beer lorry crashed into a wall near two city centre bars – but the road where the accident happened is still shut off while council officials try to arrange repairs.
The closure of Calton Road at the corner with Leith Street has increased congestion at the already-busy junction by the Balmoral Hotel at the east end of Princes Street. And it means taxis cannot get to the back entrance of Waverley station, forcing them to take a detour which can add £2 to the fare.
The collision happened near the Black Bull and Pivo bars at the beginning of December.
But council procurement procedures have led to long delays. The road looks likely to remain closed until August.
Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs called for swifter action to reopen a key link.
He said: “This closure is causing extra traffic congestion in the city centre, something that can only worsen air pollution levels locally.
“I tweeted the council about this closure some weeks back and was told that structural assessments had taken place and remedial work would be carried out in June, but the timescale was affected by the design being finalised which then had to go out to tender.
“Local residents will find it hard to understand why this work continues to take so long and why this important road link in our capital city remains closed. Surely the council should have a hit squad or rapid response unit to deal with the closure of roads like this and ensure they are reopened without delay.”
Tony Kenmuir, of Central Taxis, said that drivers were frustrated and annoyed at the time it was taking to get the wall repaired and the road reopened.
He said: “It’s forcing all the traffic up to the top of Leith Street and the junction at the corner of the Balmoral Hotel, which is a difficult junction anyway.
“Calton Road was your one opportunity to get south without going across that junction. When it is denied to you, it is compounding the problems that already exist at the East End of Princes Street. It means longer journeys and delays for everyone.”
He said the Calton Road entrance to the station was an excellent drop-off point for passengers.
“We can’t stop at Waverley Steps because there are so many buses, we can’t stop on Waverley Bridge any more, so the only alternative is to go all the way round to Market Street.
“For anyone coming from Leith or the north-east of the city and wanting to go to Waverley station, the closure of Calton Road means you have to drive a complete loop around the station. If you can’t get down Calton Road and have to go to Market Street it might add as much as £2 to the fare.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Due to the significant structural damage, it has been necessary to procure a structural assessment and contractor to carry out repair work. Work on the wall is expected to begin later this month and we aim to have the road reopened by the beginning of the festivals.”