Why Edinburgh is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – John McLellan

Building projects in hilly, historic Edinburgh are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.

Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 6:00 am

The latest example is East Princes Street where digging up the Gardens for the National Gallery improvements will carry on through most of the summer.

Galleries’ Director Sir John Leighton summed it up: “This is a complex project in a World Heritage Site, above the main railway line between Edinburgh and Glasgow, below an A-listed building, in the middle of the city centre, where people expect things to function.”

Similarly, the St James Centre is ringed with listed buildings on a sloping site and is at the difficult stage of linking the new buildings with the John Lewis store which understandably wants to continue trading.

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Having only reopened Leith Street last summer after 42 weeks of extensive disruption, no-one wanted a repeat, but just before Christmas engineers found all was not as expected and now have to use much bigger girders which need Britain’s biggest mobile crane. Leith Street will shut from this Sunday until May 24 so the crane can lift the 40 ton beams into place, and again on June 6 for five days for more work at the top end.

There has chuntering among some councillors not known for their civil engineering expertise about incompetence, loss of trust and all that stuff, but it comes back to Gump’s Law of construction in old sites – you just never know. Now when is that first tram to Newhaven due?

Multiple choice

An industrial unit has lain empty for months in an estate with a dozen other vacant units. Nearby communities are short of facilities for children but a new bus service is running very close and a business applies to set up a soft play attraction. Which of the following is true?

A. Locals object because of increased traffic.

B. Businesses complain it will deter industrial companies from moving in.

C. City traders fear it will affect their area’s viability.

D. The council throws it out because some users might drive and it could affect shops elsewhere.

The answer is D and the unit was in Newbridge. Only in Edinburgh.

Pass the face mask

The Craigentinny coal tar saga is drawing to a close, after the potentially carcinogenic historic road surfacing material was discovered during resurfacing work on Craigentinny Road in January. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has given the go-ahead for its removal and work will start in ten days’ time. Letters are about to go out to residents and we are assured there is no danger to the public, but the workers will be suited and masked.