MAJOR road repairs in George Street have been brought forward because the condition of the surfaces were so poor that it had become a safety risk.
Resurfacing work will run throughout the night for the next three weeks as part of a £350,000 project to repair the badly potholed road.
Traders and taxi drivers said the timing was unfortunate – with Princes Street also closed – but welcomed the much- needed investment.
Work began on Monday and is expected to run from 7pm until 7am until mid-March. Sections of George Street will be partly closed off with one carriageway remaining open throughout the works.
Josh Miller, chairman of the George Street Association and joint managing director of Charlie Miller hairdressing, said the condition of the surfaces had rapidly deteriorated since buses were re-routed from Princes Street.
He said: “George Street has suffered so much since the buses were re-routed and I was told by the council engineers that it had become a safety issue.
“The timing is a disappointment, because works on both streets has an impact on the city centre, but we welcome the fact it’s being done and the approach to carry out the works at night.”
Last week, Charlotte Square to Frederick Street westbound was resurfaced, with work on Hanover Street to Frederick Street westbound starting this week.
The week after, it is expected that Charlotte Square to Frederick Street eastbound will be cordoned off, with final works taking place between Frederick Street and Hanover Street eastbound.
Cab drivers said the move has caused significant diversions but agreed that the state of the street had become a major issue.
Raymond Davidson, secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, said: “It is unfortunate that we’ll see month-long diversions but I see any resurfacing as good news.
“From our point of view it takes its toll on the suspension and tyres, but it also doesn’t look good for the city.
“In America and Europe the roads are very smooth but here they are terrible. Hopefully we’ll see this rolled out to Leith Walk as well, which also needs a huge amount of work.”
Murray Fleming, company secretary of Central Taxis, added: “We welcome the attempts to minimise the disruption but when you divert all these buses it closes off the city centre altogether. There are still a lot of people heading into the city at 7pm, and I took an extra five or ten minutes to circumvent it last night, but I realise we have no choice.”
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport convenor, said George Street had been closely monitored in recent months.
He said: “These works are part of a major investment in Edinburgh’s roads over the last four years.”