2005-11-02

Intolerance: City Traffic Plans "Very Bizarre" says Council Leader!

Traffic in Edinburgh city centre was brought to a standstill yesterday 2005-10-31 by the start of a of month-long roadworks project, leading to complaints that the council did not do enough to alert drivers about likely delays. Parts of the city were gridlocked for up to four hours, with tailbacks of 5_km in some areas in the latest episode of commuter chaos to raise questions about 'The City of Edinburgh Council's' handling of traffic matters. Opposition councillors and business leaders said, that while the city had fulfilled legal obligations by placing notices in newspapers about impending round closures, these had not been prominent and well-publicised enough to allow people to make alternative arrangements. The chaos at the city's west end -- in the heart of the financial and commercial district -- is set to continue for up to four weeks while essential carriageway work is carried out at Dewar Place and nearby Torphicen Street is resurfaced. Both roads are used as conduits in and out of Edinburgh from the west or to the Borders. Yesterday there were three-mile tailbacks to the M8 in and out of Edinburgh. Traffic moved at a crawling pace at the Western Approach road and vehicles came to a complete standstill on Princes Street, Charlotte Square, Shandwick Place and Dalry Road. Bus passengers travelling within the city and those heading for Glasgow and Fife were delayed. Taxi firms struggled to get air passengers to Edinburgh Airport to catch their flights. Those travelling from the west of Edinburgh to Jedburgh on the A68 and Galashiels and Hawick on the A7 and to Carlisle on the A702 from the west also suffered lengthy delays. Mr.Graham Smith, a data manager with 'Traffic Master', a traffic and navigation service that works with the RAC, said that those hoping to escape the gridlock by taking alternative routes had been unsuccessful. Satellite pictures showed traffic moving at 10 to 25 miles per hour on the Edinburgh City Bypass. Mr.Allan Jackson, the city's Conservative transport spokesman, said the council had to put more effort into forward planning for such major projects. He said:
'The council may well be complying with statutory regulations by publicising the road closures, but the reality is that 99 per cent of the general public doesn't read these notices and only sees that something is wrong when they try to get to their destination on the day. 'This has to be resolved once and for all, even if it means the council taking out a half-page advert in the papers.
'This is a bad situation for drivers and commuters, but it could also have an effect on the city in the run up to Christmas.'
Mr.Graham Birse, the deputy chief executive of 'The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce', said:
'It is foolhardy for any council to assume they are playing their part for council tax payers and stakeholders by complying with a statutory notice.
'This is only a small part of the whole process. 'Their needs to be engagement with the public from the very beginning. We were not aware of the impact the closure of Dewar Place would bring today.'
A spokesman for the city said:
'Signage was put up along the route from last weekend warning drivers of diversions, and a temporary traffic regulation order was publicised in the newspapers. 'We apologise if people were inconvenienced and will be monitoring the flow of traffic and take extra measures if there are problems.
'This could include closing the bus lane to speed up traffic or advising people to take alternative routes.'
Last month, 2005-10, Mr.Donald Anderson, the leader of the council, admitted the 3.2_million_GBP Central Edinburgh traffic management scheme -- designed by his own staff -- had confused drivers. The police said they shared Mr.Anderson's concerns and revealed they had not been fining drivers for flouting restrictions at one notorious 'rat run'. Police chiefs previously described other restrictions brought in under the scheme as 'unenforceable'. Mr.Anderson said the whole project would be reviewed early next year, 2006.
'I think some of the solutions have been overly technical,' he said.
He expressed particular concern about the bewildering number of new traffic lights at the George Street/Hanover Street junction, which he described as 'very bizarre'. 'Anger at city council as 'surprise' roadworks bring traffic to a halt', Shan Ross, The Scotsman, 2005-11-01

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