Main construction work on Edinburgh’s Trams to Newhaven project will begin from Monday (15 June) in line with the Scottish Government’s move to phase two of plans to restart the construction industry.
Work on the project was stopped at the end of March to comply with Government guidance and to protect the safety of workers and residents during the coronavirus outbreak.
Following the First Minister’s announcement on 21 May of a phased return for construction sites, plans have been drawn up in compliance with Scottish Government safety guidelines and industry best practice to ensure the safety of workers and the public. On 28 May the First Minister confirmed that site preparation could begin and, following the announcement on Thursday (11 June), main construction works can now start. This will encompass the existing sites on Lindsay Road, Melrose Drive and Constitution Street, which will start from Monday (15 June). Main construction works on Leith Walk from Elm Row to Crown Place will start on Monday, 22 June.
In advance of this some preparatory works on Leith Walk will commence on Monday (15 June) ahead of the installation of traffic management which will begin on the evening of Friday, 19 June and will be operational from 5am on Saturday, 20 June, including Lothian Buses diversions. This will involve Leith Walk being reduced to one city bound lane between London Road and Crown Place for the duration of the works.
All traffic management arrangements are made in consultation with key partners in the city, including blue light services and public transport providers through the Traffic Management Review Panel and are continuously monitored and reviewed to ensure they work as effectively as possible.
All works will be carried out while maintaining physical distancing and additional measures to protect workers’ health will include daily briefings, continuous on-site inspections and health and safety ‘ambassadors’. The numbers of workers on-site will be kept to a minimum and a large proportion of the project office staff will continue to work from home. While physical distancing will be a key principle of construction working, workers will also have access to personal protection equipment (PPE) which they may choose to wear as an additional precaution if they wish. It should be noted that it may take time for the sites to become fully operational.
The logistic hubs at Mitchell Street, Foot of the Walk, Dalmeny Street, Albert Street and Montgomery Street will reopen on Monday, 22 June to support local businesses with deliveries and despatches. All communal bins that are currently situated on Leith Walk will be moved to the side streets.
Council Leader Adam McVey said:
With the site preparation works now completed and with updated advice from the Scottish Government, I am delighted that main construction works can now restart. As I’ve said previously, the safety of workers and the public is of utmost importance during this time and all works will be undertaken in compliance with the Government’s guidance on construction working and to allow physical distancing.
We are continuing to review the construction programme and working patterns to look at ways in which we can mitigate against the impact of the 13-week COVID-19 shutdown given that we expect there to be less traffic on the roads.
Depute Leader Cammy Day said:
The Trams to Newhaven project is being delivered for the future of our city and is one of a number of schemes that are crucial to the sustainable, long-term development of the city, helping decarbonise the way we travel. It is exactly the kind of investment we need post-COVID-19 to ensure Edinburgh is a thriving, forward-looking place for people to live and work in and to deliver much needed housing, jobs and investment into north Edinburgh.
Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, Project Director of Sacyr Farrans Neopul, the main infrastructure contractor, said:
SFN are delighted that we can restart our works on the Trams to Newhaven project. We understand the importance that this project will have for Edinburgh’s future and are committed to ensuring that we continue to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. During this pause period, concentrated efforts have continued behind the scenes to develop and test a series of robust systems and procedures, whilst ensuring the highest level of health, safety and wellbeing can be provided.
We have used this time to adapt to our new working world and developed new operating procedures that provide information, guidance and site-specific measures that will be implemented when conducting works to mitigate the impact, so far as reasonably practicable, of the virus.
Mike Thomson, Director of Morrison Utility Services, said:
We are very pleased to restart the main construction works on the Trams to Newhaven project. The safety of colleagues and the public is a key focus and we will ensure that our working practices are fully compliant with the guidance given by the Scottish Government. We’ll also continue to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and SFN to look at ways in which we can drive efficiencies.
Find out more about Trams to Newhaven on the project website.