EDINBURGH’s transport leader has insisted there is no question of motorists being allowed to drive on Princes Street while they are diverted away from one of the city’s other main thoroughfares.
Lesley Hinds said the council would not be changing a decision to divert motorists through the historic streets of the New Town for more than a year of works on York Place.
Although a full closure of York Place has been ordered over the autumn and winter to accommodate tramworks, only buses will be able to use the main road from July 14.
Car drivers are being urged to use diversions through the likes of Abercromby Place, Heriot Row and Albany Street to get from the west end to the east end of the city centre.
The council has also confirmed the closure of the city’s bus station when a full closure of York Place is introduced in September - when a final stretch of Princes St is reopened to buses.
As The Scotsman revealed earlier this month, the majority of Princes St is due to open on Saturday after around nine months of work to lay tram lines, which had previously been botched by contractors.
However only buses, taxis and cyclists are normally able to drive along Princes Street and community groups want to see the flagship thoroughfare relieve pressure on the New Town streets.
Buses will be allowed to use York Place between July 14 and September, when the full closure will be put in force. But by this time the last stretch of Princes Street, outside the Balmoral Hotel, is expected to have reopened to accommodate all bus services heading west.
The council yesterday warned that York Place may not be returned to normal until the final quarter of 2013 - much later than anticipated, with the bus station expected to be replaced by temporary stops on St Andrew Square and Waterloo Place.
Cllr Hinds said: “We’ve had meetings with business organisations and groups in the New Town about our plans, and parking restrictions will be put in place to allow traffic to be rerouted away from York Place.
“However there is no prospect of cars being diverted onto Princes Street as motorists haven’t been able to use it for years.”
Sue Bruce, the council’s chief executive, added: “Throughout the tram works, people have adapted quickly to the new traffic systems and bus diversions once they have had the chance to bed-in. This is a significant work package in the programme and its implementation is in itself a clear indication of continuing meaningful progress.”