Major resurfacing works are being carried out through the night on George Street and surrounding roads in a bid to avoid causing peak-hour traffic problems in the city centre.
The new roadworks started last night and will run for two weeks. The council has scheduled the work for between 7pm and 6am Monday to Thursday in a bid to limit congestion caused by subsequent road closures.
It is the second stage of a planned resurfacing programme for George Street, which has been forced to take extra diverted traffic while tram works on Princes Street and around St Andrew Square were completed.
The resurfacing will be done in two sections starting with the westbound segment of road outside the Assembly Rooms.
Diversions will be sign-posted, with any affected bus stops suspended. The works will be put on hold for the week after the Easter weekend.
Resurfacing will then re-start from April 9 southbound on North St David Street, with minor correction works at South St David Street.
The council chose late yesterday to postpone similar upgrades to the west and eastbound parts of George Street from St Andrew Square to Hanover Street. Improvements to rough sections of road around St Andrew Square have also been put off.
A desire to avoid doubling up on city centre roadworks, with the proposed new traffic scheme for Princes Street and George Street due to go out for public consultation, was behind the last-minute change.
City planners are considering creating a one-way traffic loop on the New Town’s two main thoroughfares in a bid to free up more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
George Street Association chairman Josh Miller welcomed the upgrade to one of the city’s premier business strips.
He said: “It’s necessary work and they’re making it happen. They seem to be doing it at the least disruptive time, so we’re just glad it’s getting done.
“The roads have been well used over the past couple of years with all the diversions. They are in need of a repair.”
A spokesman for luxury George Street bar and restaurant The Dome said people would simply have to manage their way around the closures.
The spokesman said: “The whole city’s in turmoil. We’ve got places all over the town that have been interrupted by tram works and resurfacing works, so it’s nothing new. If it’s an improvement long-term, fine.
“I would have thought places like Heriot Row where all the traffic’s been diverted, the pot holes in that road would be top of my list.”
City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “The carriageway surface along George Street has become uneven in many places and we need to get it sorted out as soon as possible. I’m sure all road users will be very glad to see it resurfaced.
“The works are being carried out overnight in order to lessen traffic disruption and we will do everything we can to keep noise down. The noisiest works will be confined to the early evening period and will be completed by 10pm at the latest.
“I’d like to thank local residents for their patience and understanding while these improvement works are carried out and to reassure them that our city centre roads team will be happy to answer any queries which might arise.”
Relief in sight for motorists
RELIEF could be in sight despite roadworks linked to the trams in place at 31 locations across the city.
North and South St Andrew Street and the east side of St Andrew Square have been closed since January last year, but clockwise traffic is expected to be moving from April 19.
Revised traffic layouts at Charlotte Square and William and Melville streets are also scheduled to be lifted as early as this weekend.
Closures at York Place are planned to end at the start of August, while Shandwick Place is set to reopen from October 1.
Not all areas of traffic disruption around Edinburgh are linked to the trams.
Lane closures and temporary traffic lights have been installed near Sainsbury’s in Gorgie until April 6 to allow for a reconstruction of Westfield Road.