Nine month delay for Sheriffhall improvement decision

Wednesday November 25th 2015

Sheriffhall Roundabout from East

In January 2015, Midlothian View reported on the work to improve Sheriffhall roundabout. At the time, Colin Beattie MSP had written to Derek Mackay, the Minister for Transport and Islands, expressing his concern at the progress being made. In a written answer Mr Mackay, responded to say that the preferred junction improvement option was expected to be announced in autumn 2015.

This month Midlothian View and Colin Beattie have followed up with Mr Mackay and his latest written reply will not make happy reading for the people who regularly use Sheriffhall roundabout.

Mr Mackay has said the preferred junction improvement will now not be announced until the summer of 2016 which is a further nine month delay.

Given that this junction is heavily used already and it’s use is projected to grow with the developments planned at Shawfair and in the rest of Midlothian, local residents and commuters will be dismayed at this news.

Especially as this is just a delay to the preferred options process and there are no timescales being offered as to when construction of the chosen option would be started or completed. Years of misery around Sheriffhall lie ahead for many.

Mr Beattie today said:

“I am extremely disappointed with this news. I had hoped we would be further along with this process by now, but clearly that’s not the case.

“I’m sure Midlothian drivers must be sick of listening out for traffic reports only to hear that, yet again, there are major delays at the Sheriffhall roundabout.

“Sheriffhall was supposedly designed to ease congestion on our roads but, if anything, it’s made matters worse.

“I will continue to press on this issue until we finally get a solution that will improve the situation.’

Midlothian View spoke to Gordon Henderson, Senior Development Manager, Scotland, Federation of Small Businesses about the delay, he said:

“This is a vital road junction not just for Edinburgh and Midlothian but for the south east of Scotland so it is essential that the improvement works there are done properly and that there are no more temporary fixes. Edinburgh is a fast expanding city that is desperate for good housing land yet to the south east there is plenty sitting undeveloped, perhaps the traffic congestion and the lack of a solution to problems at this junction explain why?

“With 5000 houses due to be built right next to this junction at Shawfair, a long term solution needs to be found not only to the hold ups at Sheriffhall but right along the city by-pass where two lanes are now totally inadequate at busy periods.”

Background

Currently, Sheriffhall roundabout is the only junction on the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass which is not grade separated. Grade separation being the term used to describe roads at different heights. The roundabout at Sheriffhall can lead to significant localised queuing, especially during the morning and evening peak periods.

Junction improvements at Sheriffhall were identified as part of the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), published in December 2008.

The six-arm roundabout has undergone various improvements, including localised widening, the provision of additional lanes, and traffic lights to try to alleviate the delays and long queues. Further improvements are complex due to a number of factors.

Aerial Photo of Sheriffhall

The area is underlain by numerous historical mine workings, and a geological fault which underlies the Roundabout. Although there is no longer any deep mining activity at Sheriffhall, potentially significant issues with ground conditions remain to be investigated, with mineral seams, fault zones and mine shafts all potentially within the area.

There are extensive plans for future residential and business development within the vicinity of Sheriffhall, including the South East Wedge (Shawfair) development. Sheriffhall also provides access to a number of growth areas, including the South East of Edinburgh where an Enterprise area has recently been established, and large developments along the A7 corridor. Sheriffhall also provides access from the east of Edinburgh City area to the growth areas around the West of Edinburgh and the M8 Corridor

The newly opened Borders Railway passes beneath the A720 Edinburgh City bypass via a tunnel approximately 300m east of the Sheriffhall Roundabout.

Consulting Engineers, URS were appointed in June 2013 to undertake a Stage 1 Assessment. The principal aim of which was to identify a range of grade separation improvement options. The study examined traffic flows in the area, as well as considering how a new grade separated junction would interact with the adjacent A720 junctions, including the Millerhill Interchange at the northern end of the A68 Dalkeith Bypass.

Of the eight junction options which were reviewed in accordance with the Stage 1 Assessment processes four are being taken forward into Stage 2, namely Options 1, 2, 6 and 8.

It is the preferred option coming out of Stage 2 that is now delayed a further nine months.

Option 1 – Dumbbell Grade Separation at Sheriffhall

Option 1 - Dumbbell Grade Separation at Sheriffhall

Option 2 – All slips provided at Gilmerton, no connection at Sheriffhall

Option 2 - All slips provided at Gilmerton with not connection at Sheriffhall

Option 6 – Grade Separated Roundabout at Sheriffhall

Option 6 - Grade separated roundabout at Sheriffhall

Option 8 – Dumbbell Grade Separation West of Sheriffhall, Gilmerton Slips closed

Option 8 - Dumbbell Grade Separation West of Sheriffhall with Gilmerton slips closed

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