Wednesday June 29th 2016
The decision on the preferred junction improvement for Sheriffhall roundabout has been delayed again, with no announcement now until later in 2016.
This is the second time the decision has been delayed and puts the current total delay at over 12 months. This is just a delay to the preferred options process and there are still 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.
In a written question to the minister, Colin Beattie, MSP Midlothian North and Musselburgh asked Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, for an update on what progress the Scottish Goverment is making on achieving grade separation for the Sheriffhall roundabout.
Mr Yousaf replied to say,
“The Scottish Government remains committed to undertaking improvements at Sheriffhall roundabout. We continue to progress the option assessment process to identify a preferred option for the grade separation of Sheriffhall roundabout. The junction improvement options under consideration will be presented to the public for comment later in 2016.”
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 then 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.
That was followed up by Mr Beattie in November 2015 and this time Mr Mackay said that the decision had been delayed nine months.
Given that this junction is heavily used already and it’s use is projected to grow with 4,000 homes planned in Midlothian at Shawfair and another 11,000 on the Edinburgh side of the roundabout, local residents, commuters and businesses will be further dismayed at a further delay.
Asked for comment by Midlothian View, Mr Beattie said:
“I am keeping constant pressure on the government and will be meeting the minister shortly to discuss progress.”
Midlothian View spoke to Gordon Henderson, Senior Development Manager, Scotland, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) about the delay, he said:
“It is disappointing that this is delayed again and with no explanation as to why there is a delay I am concerned there could be further delays.
There is a great deal of housing due to be built in the area which will have a huge impact on Sheriffhall. I worry that this work may be held up by the lack of a solution at Sheriffhall. At a time when the economy is looking uncertain we could really do with every economic boost we can get”
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.
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 2 – All slips provided at Gilmerton, no connection at Sheriffhall
Option 6 – Grade Separated Roundabout at Sheriffhall
Option 8 – Dumbbell Grade Separation West of Sheriffhall, Gilmerton Slips closed
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