Edinburgh's Sheriffhall roundabout revamp: Fears cost increases could mean project is cut back

Council bosses fear parts of the controversial Sheriffhall flyover project could be cut back because of expected cost increases.
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The current £120 million price tag for the revamp of one of the most congested junctions on the Edinburgh City Bypass is in "2018 money" and an up-to-date figure could be much higher.

The scheme involves building a flyover to take the City Bypass over the roundabout, expanding the roundabout and putting in two miles of shared cycle and pedestrian path, including subways under the roundabout.

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The project is included in the Edinburgh City Region Deal and is financed by the Scottish Government.

But the Greens have branded it a "spaghetti junction" and Edinburgh council leaders have urged more priority for buses and active travel.

At a meeting of the City Region Deal joint committee, Fife councillor Altany Craik said the £120m budget seemed "a bit optimistic". He said: "That was 2018 money. Does the Scottish Government have an upper limit? How much are they prepared to expand the budget? Are we in danger of getting a cut-down improvement rather than the full design?"

Project manager Andy Anderson told him: "The Scottish Government have committed that if there's any cost overruns over the initial estimate of £120m, the Scottish Government would fund that as well."

An artist's impression of the new Sheriffhall roundabout flyover.An artist's impression of the new Sheriffhall roundabout flyover.
An artist's impression of the new Sheriffhall roundabout flyover.
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But Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day was sceptical. He said: "If the government is going to pick up any additional cost, that's great to hear. But according to them they never have any money for local government so I'm not sure where they're going to find the money.

"I think we need to hear what gets cut first. It can't be the tarmac on the road. It's undoubtedly going to be the other measures, i.e. active travel. I want reassurance that if there are higher costs they have to be met by the government and it won't mean sacrificing active travel. I think we need reassurance that if there are costs over the £120m they will entirely be paid by the Scottish Government."

And Russell Imrie of Midlothian Council said: “The message from this committee is that if the development goes ahead we expect that to be done and not anything to be pared back, like the Borders rail which got pared back to meet the cost envelope and that's not what we want on this one. If we're going to do it, we want it done properly.”

A public inquiry is expected to be held later this year. A total of 2771 objections to the scheme were received, 2701 of them through Scottish Green Party objection portal. Some 31 have since been withdrawn. An inquiry reporter has been appointed but no date for an inquiry set.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson confirmed arrangements were being put in place for an inquiry. He said: “We remain committed to delivering the grade separation of Sheriffhall Roundabout as part of our £300m commitment to the City Region Deal. We continue to progress the proposed scheme through the statutory process so we can deliver improvements at this key junction as soon as possible.

“Delivery of the proposed scheme can only commence if approved under the relevant statutory procedures. Only following completion of statutory consents can a programme, including detailed costs, be set for delivery of the proposed scheme.”