A footbridge across Leith Street is set to be removed this weekend as part of works to facilitate the delivery of the Edinburgh St James development.
The 118-tonne, 15m tall bridge, which linked the former St James Centre with a carpark at Greenside Place, will be dismantled over Friday night by Laing O’Rourke and DSM Demolition Ltd.
The removal of the 14-year-old bridge marks a step forward for the redesign of Leith Street, which will improve the area for pedestrians and cyclists.
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While the footbridge was originally built to enable safe passage by foot over the street’s busy road, new plans will see increased pavement space and the implementation of a two-way cycle lane.
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “The removal of the Leith Street footbridge marks a visual milestone for the St James development but also signifies moves to create a more relaxed atmosphere to the east of the city centre.
“Over recent decades, Leith Street has been very much focused on cars rather than pedestrians and cyclists, but before long it will be busy with shoppers, tourists and workers drawn to the revamped east end. By opening up the area for active travel we want to ensure it is welcoming to all visitors and residents, whatever mode of transport they choose.
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“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their patience during these essential works and I’m pleased to see the planned diversions have enabled the flow of traffic since Leith Street’s closure began. The Council will continue to work very closely with the developer to monitor the impact of this work and to ensure they keep the public properly informed throughout.”
Martin Perry, Director of Development, TH Real Estate, said: “The removal of the pedestrian bridge on Leith Street is an intrinsic element in our programme of improvements for the east end of the city creating a high quality and much-improved environment, which will better serve Edinburgh’s pedestrians, public transport and cyclists for years to come. We are working closely alongside our contractor Laing O’Rourke and the City of Edinburgh Council to ensure minimum disruption is caused and it is removed safely and efficiently.”
During the dismantling, taking place between midnight on Friday and 8am on Saturday, the street, which is currently closed to traffic, will also be closed to pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, Leith Street will be closed to vehicles accessing Calton Road from 7pm on Friday until 8am on Saturday morning.
The £1bn St James development, which began last year, will create retail space, leisure facilities, new homes and a world-class hotel in the city centre and is scheduled for completion in 2020.