Edinburgh Tram extension diversion route roadworks have caused citywide resurfacing backlog

The tram extension project has resulted in huge delays to road resurfacing projects across the Capital – as it emerged that under one fifth of this year’s programmed work has been completed in the first six months.

By David Bol
Monday, 14th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 14th October 2019, 8:49 am
Resurfacing work has been brought forward for routes set to be used as a diversion during the tram construction work
Resurfacing work has been brought forward for routes set to be used as a diversion during the tram construction work

Officials from Edinburgh Council admitted that work being carried out on diversion routes needed for the tram extension to Newhaven, including Easter Road and Pilrig Street, have held up other roads being resurfaced as planned. But officials said they are confident the backlog will be worked through by the end of the financial year.

The news came after analysis showed less than 18 per cent of the council’s roads resurfacing plan had been delivered after the first six months of the year.

The report on the roads infrastructure capital delivery for 2019/20, considered by the authority’s transport and environment committee, lists the roads resurfaced or surfaces treated since the start of the financial year in April. This has been compared to the complete list of roads which was presented and approved by the committee for resurfacing work in March.

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That analysis has shown that 46,901 square metres of road from the original list had been resurfaced by the end of September. However, this makes up just 17.8 per cent of the 263,691 square metres of roads prioritised for resurfacing during the financial year.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Kevin Lang, who highlighted the findings to officers, said: “It’s clear the administration’s promise to fix our roads is not worth the paper it’s written on.

“Despite all the warm words from SNP and Labour councillors running the city, less than 18 per cent of the promised resurfacing work has been carried out as planned. Now we are told this backlog has been caused by a huge diversion of resources to works for the tram extension project.

“We were promised the tram works wouldn’t impact on other priorities. It’s now clear that residents across the city with be left with crumbling and dangerous roads to cycle and drive on. They deserve so much better than this.”

Officials said that had the tram diversion routes work been agreed before councillors approved the decision to take the tram to Newhaven, “we would be accused of pre-judging the decision being taken on the tram”.

Conservative Cllr Scott Douglas said: “This is a staggering number of streets that will now see no works carried out on them in 2019-20 despite council promises.

“It affects residents right across the city who will now have to put up with severely potholed roads for even longer.

“It’s just another damaging effect of the tram extension project, as it continues to take much needed resources from elsewhere in the city.

“The SNP-Labour administration have a lot to answer for, and need to explain to all the residents affected why they don’t see their roads as a priority.”

The council says that all of the tram diversion resurfacing works should be completed by the middle of November, before the tram construction work begins.

Cllr Lesley Macinnes said: “It wasn’t a question of either/or – it’s more a question of the fact that this work has been brought forward in terms of timetabling.

“The implication is that the programme of work around the tram has somehow been substituted in some way – when all that has been done is it has been brought forward. The work was scheduled anyway, it was just brought forward to allow sensible decisions to be made ahead of time.

“We are operating with the full expectation that the work programme will be delivered.”