ANGRY residents and business owners have hit out at rising traffic volumes after York Place was closed and traffic diverted to accommodate tramworks.
The sight of lorries and buses on narrow and normally quiet New Town streets has stunned locals, with one describing Albany Street as looking “like the M6”. Fears have also been expressed over safety risks after frustrated drivers were spotted taking short cuts to avoid no-entry signs.
The closure of York Place took effect on Saturday morning, with cars, taxis and HGVs due to be rerouted via Broughton Street, Albany Street and Abercromby Place for the next 16 months. But the full effects of the diversion may not be felt until after the summer, once the schools are back.
David Kirkwood, owner of Alexander Kirkwood and Son Medallists and Engravers on Albany Street, told the News: “It’s like the M6 – you can just see the traffic going backwards and forwards. There are less parking spaces all of a sudden because the cars are now parking vertically. Our customers are going to find it more difficult to park, especially with the amount of traffic. I think it will have quite a bit of impact on the residents too – there are quite a few residents here with children.”
Margaret Arbuckle, 72, a customer of Mr Kirkwood’s from Winchburgh, said: “It’s a nightmare, especially down Broughton Street. The traffic has just been horrendous.
“There was a bin lorry holding things up just because it had to stop. I don’t think I will come into town at all now unless I’m coming in by train.”
Gerry Kingham, 53, an IT consultant who lives on Broughton Street, said he had seen frustrated drivers using the traffic island at the junction of Albany Street and Broughton Street as a roundabout to avoid no-entry barriers.
He added: “People are coming up Broughton Street and not picking up on the fact that the priority has changed at the junction in favour of drivers coming out of Albany Street and on to Broughton Street.
“I would be happy to be proved wrong but I’ll be surprised if there’s not an accident caused by these traffic changes.”
Irene Kivlin, of Charles Kivlin Hair Studio in Albany Street, said: “Everybody is concerned their business will be affected. We’d hope it won’t affect our customers but there’s a chance they could be affected as there’s much less parking for them.”
Residents and workers continued to express their anger as traffic volumes rose even higher during yesterday’s evening rush-hour.
“It’s horrific,” said Claire Murray, 39, an Albany Street resident. “I just find it amazing that they are pushing all these cars into residential streets.
“No-one is addressing safety. No-one is addressing that it’s primarily a residential street. It’s noise, it’s pollution. This was a quiet street.”
“It’s the type of traffic,” said Catherine Clerk, 36, an Albany Street resident. “It’s the heavy vehicles and lorries, which you never had before.”
The diversions are expected to be in place in the area for the next 16 months. A council spokeswoman said: “We are continually in dialogue with residents and businesses affected by the tramworks and we will continue to monitor and adjust as necessary on site until the traffic conditions settle. “