Greens want to halt Edinburgh's 'spaghetti junction' flyover at Sheriffhall roundabout

Campaign claims £120m project will increase traffic congestion

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 6:00 am
Alison Johnstone hopes people will respond to Transport Scotland's consultation, opposing the flyover

GREENS have launched a new campaign to halt the proposed jam-busting £120 million flyover at the Sheriffhall roundabout, branding it a “spaghetti junction”.

They claim evidence shows such projects simply increase traffic congestion and argue the money should instead be invested in city-wide clean transport infrastructure like segregated cycle paths, bus lanes and park and ride facilities.

Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone, co-leader of the Greens at Holyrood, said: “The council estimates that congestion costs Edinburgh £225m a year, yet they and the Scottish Government insist on repeating the same failed mistakes of the past.

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“Since the 1960s we’ve known that if you build more roads, they fill up with cars. That’s why the proposal to turn Sheriffhall roundabout into a spaghetti junction isn’t an upgrade, it’s a step backwards, especially when we now know 60,000 cars are coming into the city every morning.”

The current roundabout on the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass is a well-known bottleneck and often sees long queues at morning and evening rush hours..

Funding for the new road scheme - the flyover plus an enlarged eight arm roundabout and nearly two miles of cycle and pedestrian paths - was included in the Capital’s £1 billion City Region Deal.

The Scottish Government says the flyover will separate local traffic from through traffic on the bypass and will allow the bypass traffic to flow freely, improving road safety and journey times for all road users.

But Ms Johnstone said: “This is the 21st century, and we are in a climate emergency. £120m could go a long way in transforming our capital for the future. It could pay for 120 miles of segregated cycle paths, for example. It could boost our bus lanes and park and ride offerings to get our city moving again, instead of sitting in gridlock every day.”

She argued for promotion of car-sharing schemes and more investment in bus and rail as alternatives to the flyover.

Transport Minister Michael Matheson has said the current 67,500 vehicles a day using the roundabout were expected to increase by 9 per cent to 73,600 by 2024 if no improvements were made and by a further 5 per cent to 77,300 with the improvements in place.

He said air quality assessments suggested a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over 15 years with the flyover.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “Sheriffhall isn’t working for anyone right now and this gives us an opportunity to create more sustainable transport options and resolve the conflict between the bypass traffic and the commutes of people in the region.

“While the cycling provision is strong in the scheme, I am aware of some comments through the consultation process in terms of their connection to existing networks and we’ll continue to work with Midlothian Council to take projects forward that better connect our region.

“We’re also working to determine what additional public transport provision could be part of the project to make bus a more reliable option for operators and commuters.”

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