TRAM works forced hundreds of cars, including emergency vehicles, to perform U-turns on a major route into the city centre amid claims that warning signs about the road closure were inadequate.
Police cars and an ambulance responding to an emergency call-out were said to be among the vehicles caught up in “traffic chaos” in Broughton Street on Saturday, which saw the southbound carriageway blocked all day as part of diversionary measures linked to the tram project.
Workers dug a small trench to lay cables for temporary traffic lights to help cope with increased vehicle numbers diverted from York Place.
Residents also told how two Lothian buses were forced into three-point turns after being confronted by a blockade which they say was poorly signposted.
Transport chiefs say notices highlighting the road closure were adequate and included advanced warnings of the diversion at the Broughton Road/East London Street roundabout.
But residents branded traffic management on the day “a shambles”.
Edwin Carlyon, 70, who lives in Broughton Street, said: “It was horrendous. We received notice that work was going ahead, but there’s nothing down the road telling motorists about it.
“There was one sign at the closure, but for most of the day one of their vans was parked in such a way it obscured the sign.
“First thing in the morning, there was a bus that had to do a U-turn and later on there was another one that had to do the same. At around 3.30pm, there was an ambulance with its blue lights flashing that had to do a three-point turn because of the diversion. All these motorists could not be wrong – if there were signs they could not have been very good.
“Everyone in the street was standing in amazement.”
Duncan McDonald, manager at Broughton Property Management, said hundreds of cars were seen taking U-turns on the road, sparking “chaos”. He said emergency vehicles were also wrong-footed by the closure.
He said: “There were ambulances that didn’t know about the closure and also a police car.
“It was pretty much a shambles. I think it was one of the worst episodes I have seen in this tram debacle. If the council say there was adequate signs, that’s rubbish.”
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport leader, said: “The local community submitted a request for temporary traffic lights on Broughton Street at the junction with Albany Street while York Place is closed.
“To accommodate these new lights, essential ducting works were completed on Saturday, a day ahead of schedule. All residents and businesses in the affected area were notified in advance of the diversion.”