Transport chiefs told to 'get cracking' with £120m Edinburgh City Bypass flyover at Sheriffhall - two years after plans mooted

Transport chiefs have been told to “get cracking” with the £120 million Edinburgh City Bypass flyover at Sheriffhall - two years after plans were first mooted.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:00 am

The Scottish Government published draft orders for the new scheme on Thursday.

It is hoped the proposals will tackle congestion and long delays at what has been dubbed “Edinburgh’s worst roundabout.”

Funding for the new road scheme was included in the Capital’s £1 billion City Region Deal and Transport Secretary Michael Matheson stressed the Scottish Government is “committed to delivering improvements” at the junction on the A720.

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The junction at Sheriffhall is notorious and one of Edinburgh's busiest.

But Transport Scotland said no timetable for the scheme can be announced until it passes planning processes.

'Disappointing'

Local politicians and councillors said they were "disappointed" that Transport Scotland was not able to provide any more concrete details on the likely project timetable, given the public has already waited two years to reach this stage.

Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP Miles Briggs welcomed the "much needed investment" after a "long campaign" but said: "It is very disappointing that Transport Scotland have not set out a project timeline for when Sheriffhall Roundabout improvements will be in place or advised motorists on the extent of disruption to travel.

"People have had to wait a long time already for these improvements to be agreed and know they are having to wait even longer to find out when they will be delivered.

"Anyone who uses the bypass this regularly knows what a miserable experience it can be.

"This flyover would help ease congestion at one of the Lothians' busiest junctions.

"It's time to get cracking with this project and make it happen."

Mr Briggs added: "Commuters who spend hours in queues each week in and around Sherffihall can't afford to wait any longer."

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£120m Edinburgh City Bypass flyover plans to go on public display

In autumn last year, Mr Briggs accused Mr Matheson of putting the handbrake on improvements to the City Bypass and expressed concern that a change in personnel of SNP cabinet Ministers would mean the Bypass would be "forgotten."

And in September members of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Joint Committee raised concerns about how the project was being delivered, and called on transport chiefs to attend their next meeting to be quizzed over delays with the flyover proposals.

Speaking to the Evening News on Thursday, Edinburgh City Council's depute council leader Cammy Day, (Labour) former temporary chairman of this committee, said: "It's disappointing that Transport Scotland has been unable to provide any concrete information. I don't sit on the City Deal group but lots of different local authorities are frustrated with the lack of engagement with Transport Scotland, particularly Midlothian and West Lothian.

"Whether we like it or not, the flyover is part of the deal (City Deal) but I'm not so sure building more and more roads is the solution. We in Edinburgh are looking to try and manage the use of cars and invest millions of pounds in making the city region more sustainable. If Transport Scotland are not confirming any dates or times, is that the right use of a substantial amount of money?

"How cars get in or around the city easily is not just about building a ring road or flyover. We should be sitting down and have a sensible discussion about park and rides, or expanding the network of buses through Lothian."

Ground investigation work for the new flyover started in February last year.

Transport Scotland has said previously there would be no disruption at peak periods, but some overnight lane closures on the roundabout, the westbound A720 and A7 and A6106 would be needed to allow work to be carried out safely.

'Committed to delivering improvements'

Speaking on Thursday, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “Sheriffhall roundabout is a well-known bottleneck for motorists using the Edinburgh City Bypass. As the only junction on the A720 trunk road which is not grade-separated, it is often the scene of congestion and significant queuing, particularly at morning and evening peak times.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to delivering improvements at this busy junction and having undertaken detailed development and assessment of the preferred option are now able to publish draft orders for the scheme.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to attend the exhibitions on 18 and 19 December to see our proposals or view the material online and give us their views.”

Councillor Adam McVey, Convenor of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal Joint Committee said: “We welcome this important milestone in delivering the improvements to the Sheriffhall roundabout, a scheme that is being taken forward as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

"It is important that everyone with an interest in the scheme has a chance to comment and the exhibitions later this month provide locals and road users with a chance to do so.”

Public exhibitions of the plans will be held at Dalkeith's St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church and at Sheriffhall Park and Ride, Old Dalkeith Road, on the 18 and 19 December respectively.