Edinburgh Dalmahoy junction: Full upgrade looks set to be approved after all

Edinburgh’s transport committee likely to reverse decision to scale back improvements

A major upgrade of the Dalmahoy junction outside Edinburgh is set to be approved by councillors after a 36-year campaign by residents.

A report to Thursday's transport committee recommends traffic lights be installed at the notorious accident blackspot on the A71, reversing a previous decision to put in only a pedestrian crossing. And almost half the cost could be funded by the Scottish Government.

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The council says the junction improvements are not only about reducing accidents but also about making it safer for locals going about their everyday business, like Brownies crossing the road to St Mary's Episcopal Church Hall, parents taking their children to the nearby nursery or staff going to work at the Dalmahoy hotel and country club, where US president Joe Biden stayed during last year's Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

Residents have been calling for an upgrade to the Dalmahoy junction since 1986. Picture: Ian Rutherford.

Residents first asked for an upgrade of the junction as long ago as 1986. Ben Bright, one of the campaigners, said there had been a serious accident at the junction in August and he had witnessed numerous near misses and dangerous situations. "Everybody is just lucky no-one has actually been killed there," he said.

A council report in 2015 said a fully signalised junction was the only practical option to improve safety and the council agreed to the upgrade, but the project was delayed and last year officials said the scheme was now too costly and produced a scaled-down alternative with just a pedestrian crossing, which the transport committee at the time endorsed.

Residents and local councillors warned the reduced scheme would not solve the problems and could even make the situation worse. After the council elections earlier this year, the new transport committee ordered the proposals to be re-examined and now the fully signalised junction is expected to be given the go-ahead.

Transport convener Scott Arthur said: "The local community raised this as a real concern for them, the council has listened and we're acting. Transport Scotland have been in the loop on this and they are supportive of what we want to do and they think they can justify allocating funding to it as well.

"The previous council agreed on a pedestrian crossing, but the local community was never satisfied with that as a solution. At one of the first transport committees of the new administration we agreed to look at it again. It’s an example of how the council taking just a little bit of time to reconsider has been worthwhile – we've looked at it again and it seems the case for a signalised junction does stack up.”

The cost of the full project was estimated last year at £962,000, compared with £625,000 for the scaled-back scheme. Now the cost has risen to £1.55m, while the lesser project would be £1.06m. But the report says £750,000 from the Scottish Government's Cycling Walking Safer Routes fund could help pay for the work. As well as the traffic signals, the project will include road resurfacing, a pedestrian crossing, wider footways and drainage works.

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Mr Bright said residents would be relieved when the scheme gets the go-ahead. "The community council has worked really hard for it. Graeme Bruce and the other ward councillors have done a lot of work to help this. And the new committee has come in and made the right choice – to spend money for people’s safety. It’s a very welcome thing for people here. I hope they can start on it straight away.”