Mound set to reopen early as Council recommends further support for city centre businesses

The Mound is to re-open to taxis, buses, cycles and emergency vehicles on 3 March - four months ahead of schedule.

The administration also confirmed that it is recommending that a further £100,000 be allocated to the Open For Business programme to assist businesses in areas affected by the trams work, which would take total funding this year to £545,000.

These announcements came as the Council outlined plans for the next phase of works due to begin in the spring. A new diversion will be introduced for buses in the east end of Princes Street on 3 March while, towards the end of that month, works sites at Shandwick Place and Haymarket will be extended to include West Maitland Street.

The latest traffic management plans are being introduced following in-depth engineering and construction planning by City of Edinburgh Council in co-operation with the contractors.

Cllr Gordon Mackenzie, Transport convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

"It is encouraging that work on the tram project continues apace and we will be extending worksites across the city centre to make sure the project is being delivered to programme, as we outlined last December. Thanks to new positive relationships, regular discussions now take place between the council, the contractors and Transport Scotland to ensure the project can be delivered as efficiently as possible.

"I am also pleased to advise those businesses affected by the tram works that our administration is recommending to the council that an additional £100,000 should be allocated to the Open for Business support package, taking the total this year to more than half a million pounds with a further £445,000 planned for the year ahead.

"We have set ourselves a schedule of completing the project by summer 2014 and we mean to deliver the project within that timeframe. This latest move represents an informed decision to maximise efficiency by increasing access for the contractors who will now be able to plan work in the most flexible manner possible. The opening up of The Mound four months early really exemplifies this positive working."

The closures of the east side of St Andrew Square combined with a section of Princes Street between Waverley Bridge and South St Andrew Street and, at the west end, Shandwick Place, were brought forward earlier this year and to date the traffic management has proved successful.

Dave Anderson, Director of City Development, City of Edinburgh Council, said:

"The traffic management systems recently put in place around St Andrew Square and at Shandwick Place have been working well thanks to the co-operation of the public. We are confident the same will be true of these latest diversions.

"Intensive engineering analysis and excellent team-working between the Council and contractors has enabled us to make significant progress and these latest measures are being introduced to ensure that momentum continues.

"We will continue to work closely with stakeholders to mitigate the effects of these diversions and ensure that all those affected have access to the latest information.

Detailed information on road closures and diversions are being circulated to businesses and residents and drop in sessions organised for local community groups and stakeholders."

Details of diversions

1. Haymarket - Lothian Road: From the end of March, the existing works sites at Shandwick Place and Haymarket are being extended to include West Maitland Street. This means a revised set of diversions will be put in place. Access will continue for Atholl and Coates Crescents on either side of Shandwick Place, with one end of the crescent being open at any one time. North-South traffic will be maintained through Palmerston Place with through access available via Morrison Street and Torphichen Place. Traffic on Torphichen Place will be reversed to flow from Morrison Street to Palmerston Place. Traffic from Dalry will also be able to travel along Morrison Street which will become two-way as far as Torpichen Place.

Buses will be diverted locally via Roseberry, Grosvenor and Landsdowne Crescents in the north and by the West Approach Road in the south. Emergency services access will be maintained throughout the works.

Residents and businesses will be notified once a specific start date for this work has been set.

The Client Target Programme outlines that current road closures are expected to be lifted at Haymarket by Q3 2013 and at Shandwick Place by Q2 2013.

2. Princes Street - east end: The current diversion means Princes Street is narrowed to one lane for buses only with traffic lights operating between Waverley Bridge and South St. Andrew Street. (This is to accommodate works on South St. Andrew Street which will join up tram works between the two roads).

From 3 March the bus lane will be removed to allow the contractors to work over a larger area. North - South access will be available from North Bridge to Leith Street and to the Bus Station via York Place. North - South general traffic access through Waverley Bridge onto South St. David Street will remain open.

Further to this the contractors were asked to investigate whether The Mound could be opened earlier than originally programmed and through the collaborative working have re-sequenced their activities to open up access for bus, taxi, cyclists and emergency services through The Mound and Hanover Street from March 3, 2012.

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