Cracks appear on Shandwick Place tram route

Cracks show up on the tram line along Shandwick Place. Picture: Hot Oyster
Cracks show up on the tram line along Shandwick Place. Picture: Hot Oyster
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ENGINEERS have slammed works at a troubled stretch of the tram network as “not fit for a public toilet” after a series of cracks split concrete along the line.

An Evening News investigation revealed two significant fissures and two hairline fractures at the crisis-hit Shandwick Place section where blundering contractors have already had to lay concrete three times to pass quality tests.

Concrete poured between tram lines has split at several points along a 100-metre section just six months after all works were finally lifted from the city centre following years of disruption.

Transport chiefs insist the fresh cracks have “no structural influence on performance” and will not delay launch of the £776 million network next month but experts have branded the flaws “shocking”.

Today, John Addison, a respected structural engineer with 45 years’ industry experience, described the concrete work as “a bloody mess” and the result of “terrible workmanship” and “neglect”.

“It would be a hazard on the floor of a public toilet,” he said. “I wouldn’t allow a tram to pass over that until it is repaired.

“I can’t offer an explanation why these cracks are opening up, it is shoddy workmanship and if it’s passed any inspector’s test I would be very surprised.

He added: “The concrete should be of the best standard anywhere given the amount of money they have spent laying it. It’s a shocker, you don’t need to be an engineer to see that this couldn’t be right. It is just a mess, an embarrassment.”

The council claims all defects to the Shandwick Place concrete will be repaired during the contractor’s “planned maintenance and snagging process” but Mr Addison stressed these were not “minor faults” but “neglect”.

He said: “You wouldn’t expect this type of work on a public toilet to be honest.”

Another structural engineer familiar with the tram project and with a career spanning five decades blamed “ill-formed steel joints” in “poor quality” concrete for the damage.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: “I would suggest the joint is not properly constructed and there is a failure in the concrete adjacent to the joint.

“It won’t be very long before that crack deteriorates badly because if ice, snow or salt gets into that it will get to the reinforcement underneath. If properly constructed, the concrete would protect the reinforcement but when you have a breach like this it will set in and that’s when it becomes a serious problem.

“Whatever way you look at it, it’s not good. The quality control on this project should be high and this is poor, there can’t be any other word for it.”

Last May, contractors were forced to rip up around half-a-kilometre of concrete on Shandwick Place after it failed quality tests and just months later returned to re-lay a 25-metre stretch for the third time.

Green Transport spokesman Cllr Nigel Bagshaw said: “It’s not good if cracks are appearing while the trams are still running empty. While the damage seems minor, at the very least it looks like careless workmanship so needs put right as soon as possible – and with a repair that lasts.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Cracking within concrete is common and the majority of cracks, such as this one, have no structural influence on performance. The contractor and the council have a monitoring process in place for this type of thing and, of course, all aspects of the tram system will be thoroughly tested and checked before we go into operation.”

West End crescents get facelift

TWO Georgian crescents situated yards from the West End tram stop are set for a major post-tram works facelift.

They will get fresh garden turf, new paving slabs and a revamp of a stone wall. The sandstone pavements at Coates and Atholl Crescents will also be laid on footways similar to those seen near the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Assembly Rooms. Around seven weeks’ work is due to begin on Monday as part of improvements to “reinforce the area as a high calibre place to live, work, visit, and spend time”.

Transport and environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “Now that we’re almost ready to launch tram passenger services, it’s great that we’ve been able to kick-off the first phase of this important project, putting in high quality stone footways and laying brand new turf and planting in the gardens.”

Hamish Dobbie, chairman of the West End Association, said: “We are working with the council to restore the West End.”